Respect for the Patient's Integrity and Self-Determination -- an Ethical Imperative Called Upon in the Swedish Health and Medical Care Act
Medicine and Law: World Association for Medical Law 1996; 15(2): 189-193
The Swedish Health and Medical Care Act of 1983, states that health and medical care should be based on respect for the patient's self determination and integrity. The aim of this statement according to the legislative preparatory work, was to ensure that individuals seeking help from the health care system retained their dignity and integrity. The law also states that care, when possible, is to be planned and implemented in consultation with the patient. The statement in the Act, can be seen as an ethical principle that expresses an ideal. Since the concepts of integrity were found to be used vaguely and ambiguously, clarification was required in order to facilitate a discussion about how respect for the patient's integrity ought to be realized. A research study was performed where the aim was to find a fruitful definition of integrity and to suggest criteria that delineate the characteristics of a good health-care professional, who is willing and able to respect the patient's integrity.
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