Monday, June 21, 2010

Idaho and Patients' Rights

The two great opening sentences of Maureen Dolan's CDAPress article on a new Idaho Law:

A new law goes into effect July 1 giving Idaho health care workers the right to refuse to provide end-of-life care they find morally objectionable.

Some fear the legislation places the conscience of a caregiver ahead of a dying person's rights.

I'm constantly amazed at how the media report down what they call the center line on end of life rights. Now, it's actually questionable whether a doctor making your health care decisions for you - despite your advanced directive, living will or other statements regarding informed consent for care - is a violation of your rights or not.

I think two factors feed into this odd kind of reporting; lack of knowledge of the dying process and reporters working to make end of life care stories contentious.

Of course, a doctor or nurse denying a patient legal, medically proven services is a violation of rights. But because religion's last bastion is the death bed, few are willing to call it what it is: a patronizingly old fashioned provider refusal law that pushes paternalistic ideas of faith and medicine on elder patients as a way to deny them autonomy. Just ask women. They've been up against such discriminatory laws for 4 decades. Let's see what baby boomers do with them.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Patients' Rights for the Disabled.

More support for my advocacy for a Patients' Bill of Rights: a new report via BBC that polls doctors and nurses and finds that the mentally disabled receive compromised treatment.

Mencap's research - conducted by ICM among more than 1,000 doctors and nurses within the past month - also revealed 45% of doctors and a third of nurses had witnessed a patient with a learning disability being neglected or being denied their dignity.

Four out of 10 doctors and a third of nurses surveyed thought that people with learning disabilities were discriminated against in the NHS.

Despite decades of effort, the US still does not have a Patients' Bill of Rights, largely because medical associations (like the AMA), "pro-life" (Catholic and evangelical) organizations and the state (federal and state legislative systems) have all been reticent to cede control of medical care (or suffering!) to the patient.

Watch women's rights, elders' rights, LGBT rights, disability rights and medical marijuana activists and you'll find a diverse but uniquely talented group of advocates that, if allied, could challenge the existing discrimination inherent in our current health care delivery system.

Labels: , , , , , , ,