• Thursday, Dec 02, 2021
  • Last Update : 01:15 am

ED: A legal and ethical obligation

  • Published at 09:55 pm June 16th, 2020
doctor medicine ethics

The denial of treatment ought to be treated as a criminal offense

The innumerable accounts of people being denied treatment at hospitals around the country have been despairing and infuriating.

We are in the middle of a global pandemic that is claiming greater numbers of lives each day. Not only is it disturbing and inhumane for patients to be refused treatment during such a critical health crisis, but it is also medically unethical, going against the oaths taken by health care workers and medical practitioners.

In that regard, the High Court’s recent statement -- concluding that the denial of treatment ought to be treated as a criminal offense -- is laudable, and certainly a step in the right direction.

As we have previously editorialized, this disregard for medical ethics also extends to issues such as ICU beds being left unoccupied as hospitals refuse to accept certain patients, as well as that of stockpiling and raising prices of oxygen.

Appreciably, the High Court also addressed these matters, ordering that private hospitals be monitored to prevent them from exploiting desperate patients through exorbitant charges.

It also asked the commerce ministry’s consumer rights department to keep track of oxygen cylinder prices and ordered concerned authorities to set appropriate prices.

While these official steps are undoubtedly welcome and highly encouraged, it is still severely disheartening that even during a crisis, there is such a lack of compassion towards those who are suffering.

The Hippocratic Oath calls for “warmth, sympathy, and understanding” towards the sick and infirm. In the midst of a raging pandemic that continues to rob us of conventional social interaction and empathy for the infected, these are the qualities most needed now from our health care sector.

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