| “Human Rights in Patient Care: a Practitioner Guide” is a project of the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER), initially developed by the Open Society Foundations (OSF).
The mission of the Practitioner Guide project is to advance enforcement of legislation to promote human rights in patient care by translating laws and procedures into practical terms for legal practitioners, health care providers, and patients.
Legal, ethical, and human rights norms are an increasingly important component of the delivery of quality medical care. OSF’s work on behalf of society’s most marginalized—people living with HIV, people who use drugs, people with disabilities, Roma, sex workers, and other ethnic and sexual minorities — has shown that health systems can too often be places of punishment, coercion, and violations of basic rights to consent and confidentiality, rather than places of treatment and care. At the same time, doctors and health practitioners are often constrained in their ability to provide quality care to their patients, or are unaware of how to incorporate ethical and human rights norms into their work. There is an urgent need to support legal and administrative remedies for individual and systemic human rights abuse in health settings, and at the same time to establish non-punitive mechanisms of incorporating normative principles into patient care.
THE PRACTITIONER GUIDE PROJECT
To this end, OSF supported the development of a series of Practitioner Guides and companion country websites for lawyers interested in taking patient rights cases. These are practical, how-to manuals, covering both litigation and alternative mechanisms such as ombudspersons and medical licensing bodies. They examine patient and provider rights and responsibilities and procedural mechanisms at national, regional, and international levels. Guides are have been produced in Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, and Ukraine. The international and regional chapters of the guide are additionally available in Arabic, Croatian, English, and Spanish.
These Practitioner Guides are used as a basis for training and litigation support. They are a resource in clinical legal education programs. Although legal practitioners are the primary audience for the guides, they are also used for medical professionals, public health managers, Ministries of Health and Justice, patient advocacy groups, and patients themselves.