Nursing and Human Rights


  • Jean McHale, Professor, LLB, MPhil, Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Leicester, UK
  • Ann Gallagher, Former general and psychiatric nurse, now researcher at Middlesex Hospital, London, UK

It attempts to provide a clear exposition and a critical evaluation of the developing human rights law and the way in which nursing practice reflects respect for the human rights of nurses and patients alike. The book draws upon comparisons with human rights based approaches and their impact on nursing practice in other jurisdictions in Europe and North America which already have experience in a legal process rooted in a human rights tradition. The authors are an academic lawyer experienced in writing on nursing and related health care law and ethics issues and a nurse with both practical and academic experience in nursing ethics and practice.
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Book information

  • Published: January 2004
  • ISBN: 978-0-7506-5292-6

Table of Contents

Chapter One- Setting the Scene
What are human rights? - Positive/negative; civil and political/economic
Social and cultural.
What does human rights mean in the area of health care practice in general and nursing practice in particular?
What is the scope of the Human Rights Act 1998?
What will be the impact of developments such as the EU Social Charter and the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine?
How are rights ranked and what happens if conflicts arise between different rights?
Nurse as participant in treatment acting under the directions of a
Doctor- the nature of her responsibilities.
Implications for the nurse as patient advocate.
Role expansion- what is the effect upon nurses rights?

Chapter Two
Rights and health care resource allocation.
The right to life and questions of resources.
Discrimination and resource allocation.
Access to infertility treatment and the role of the right to reproduce.

Chapter Three
The right to life and the management of pregnancy and childbirth
Emergency contraception- role of the nurse prescriber.
Conscientious objection.
Enforced care during pregnancy.
Enforced caesarean sections.

Chapter Four
The right to life and the withdrawal of treatment.
The background: from Tony Bland onwards.
Child and adult patients.
Do Not Resuscitate Orders.
Age/disability discrimination.

Chapter Five-
Consent to treatment and human rights
Incapable adults.
Constraint, restraint and competence.

Chapter Six
The right to privacy and health information
Article 8.
Confidentiality and electronic patient information.
Confidentiality and clinical research.
Genetic information and the nurse as genetic counsellor.
Confidentiality and the nurse as researcher.
Confidentiality and the nurse as whistleblower- where rights conflict?
Article 10 v Article 8 - Pink case revisited and clinical governance.

Chapter Seven
Mental Health Nursing
Article 3 prohibition on torture- concepts of dignity.
Article 5- rights to liberty and security- Bournewood and informal patients revisited.
Article 6 right to a fair trial- discharge by mental health tribunals.
Article 10 whistleblowing- an d the Ashworth inquiry.

Chapter Eight
Clinical research
The role of human rights regulation in clinical research post Nuremberg.
Comparative international analysis of regulation of research.
Consent to participation, the role of the vulnerable adult.
Article 3 prohibition on torture.

Chapter Nine
Conscience, Belief and Treatment Decisions
Article 9 –Freedom of Religion.
Religious beliefs and treatment decisions:
(a)At the start of life- Siamese twins etc.
(b)At the end of life- Bland .
Conscientious objection .
Nursing in a multi-cultural society.