PMID: 16268335Nov 5, 2005Paper

Patients and doctors: rights and responsibilities in the NHS

Clinical Medicine : Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London
Melissa Smith

Abstract

Our society is very concerned with endowing and protecting people's rights and the existence of a National Health Service in this country has allowed such concepts to be applied to medical care. It is not clear, however, whether the concept of rights helps either doctors or patients, and it may in fact be misleading or even damaging. A discussion of the suitability of rights ethics to the healthcare context is presented, particularly highlighting the problems of attributing positive rights. The way in which rights create corresponding duties and responsibilities, and the particular problems that this creates for our health service is also addressed. Finally, in the light of the ongoing changes in the doctor-patient relationship, the future balance of rights and responsibilities in healthcare and the impact this will have on clinical decision-making is discussed.

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