Front Page Forums Rights Right to seek medical care

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    No person shall prevent another person from seeking medical care for themselves or others.


    The right to seek medical care means that neither the government or its agencies and departments, nor corporations, nor individual citizens may prevent a person from seeking medical care for themselves or others. This is a right that in most cases is easy to uphold — simply don’t become an obstacle in someone else’s way of seeking medical care.

    The proposed right to seek medical care would apply to minors. Parents are responsible for seeking medical care for their children, and if a parent neglects their duty a child may seek medical care alone, but if a parent prevents a child from seeking medical care they are violating the child’s right to seek medical care.

    The proposed right to seek medical care would apply to students in public schools. If a student has a medical emergency, they must be allowed to exit the classroom to seek help, such as going to the healthcare office if the school has medical staff on site, or calling their parents. This right only applies to real needs, so if a student is found to have abused the school’s trust by seeking help for a non-existent medical need, there may be consequences. However, such consequences cannot include preventing the student from seeking medical care in the future, because if it’s real then the school would be violating the student’s right to seek medical care. Consequences can only apply to past bad behavior, such as detention or a writing project or suspension or expulsion.

    The proposed right to seek medical care would apply to all employees, workers, laborers, professionals, and executives working for the government, a corporation, non-profit organization, or any other employer. If an employee must pause or stop their work while they seek medical care for themselves or someone else, and the employer retaliates for the loss of productivity in some way, then the employer has violated the employee’s right to seek medical care. The employer isn’t required to provide medical care, but also cannot interfere with or attempt to deter employees from seeking medical care. If the medical care is required for a work-related injury or illness, then interfering or deterring employees from seeking such medical care is an even worse abuse of their right to seek medical care.

    The proposed right to seek medical care would apply to prisoners. Since they are prisoners, they may not have sufficient freedom of movement to seek medical care themselves, and in that case a request for medical care made to a guard or warden obligates them to seek medical care on behalf of the prisoner, who cannot seek it for themselves.

    No right to receive medical care

    It’s important to note that the proposed right is to seek medical care, not a right to receive medical care. A “right to medical care” or a “right to receive medical care” would obligate the government or all people to respond to every illness and injury that occurs. This is not practical for at least a few reasons.

    Other rights that obligate actions include the right to fair trial and right to education. However, in these two rights the people obligated to take action are obvious and their duties are sensible. In the right to fair trial, there is already a group of people involved such as the judge and the prosecutor, so naturally those people are charged with conducting a trial and conducting it fairly. In the right to education, the parents or guardians are the obvious people obligated to ensure their children receive an adequate education, with or without any external resources.

    Unlike the right to a fair trial and right to education, there is no obvious set of people to obligate. Let’s consider an example. A hiker is adventuring in the country and suffers an accident such as twisting an ankle or being attacked by a wild animal. The hiker is then laying on the ground, injured and unable to move. The hiker cannot contact anyone and so nobody knows about this injury and nobody is there to provide medical care. Assuming there is a right to medical care, has the hiker’s right been violated? Is there an amount of time that can pass before the hiker’s right is considered violated? One minute after the injury? One hour after the injury? A day after the injury?

    To make a “right to medical care” work, it can only be activated when another person encounters the victim — whether they are injured or sick. But then what happens? Anyone who sees the victim is immediately obligated to stay and care for them? Would there be a limit to how many people have to help? It seems that it should be when adequate medical care is provided but who determines that? What if the passers-by don’t know what to do? What if they try something and accidentally make the situation worse? For example, moving a person with a neck or back injury and accidentally causing paralysis, or giving the person CPR and accidentally transmitting a disease to them.

    To make a “right to medical care” work, it must be separated into four parts, because different people might be involved in each one: pre-hospital care, calling for help, emergency care, and routine care.

    First, the pre-hospital or pre-clinic emergency care. This would be the minimum care that a passer-by might be able to provide such as moving someone off the road or out of the car, moving someone away from a burning vehicle, pulling someone out of the water, performing CPR, applying a bandage to a wound if there’s a medical kit around or possibly improvising with clothing or other material that may be available. The first part is skipped if it’s not applicable to the situation, such as if the victim’s injury or illness is not one that can be helped by such pre-hospital care. What if the only other person around is also injured themselves? Are they still obligated to provide pre-hospital first aid to the other victim? If they’re not able to do that, are they violating the other victim’s right to medical care?

    Second, calling for help such as finding a certified first responder or doctor or calling for an ambulance. The second part is skipped if it’s not applicable to the situation, such as if the victim can arrive at the hospital on their own. But what if the victim and the passer-by are in a secluded area and no help is available? Is the victim’s right to medical care violated? What if the victim became a victim as a result of an injury or illness that happened while doing something extraordinarily risky, such as climbing a tall mountain, sailing across an ocean, or launching into space? Will people be able to undertake any risky activity and expect that other people will be standing by just in case there’s an injury, so their right to medical care isn’t violated?

    Third, emergency care at the hospital. The third part is skipped if the victim’s injury or illness is not one that requires emergency care. What happens if the hospital doesn’t have enough surgeons? Will a doctor enter the lobby and ask if anyone has experience using scissors or sewing? If a hospital doesn’t have enough staff to accommodate all visitors, is it violating their right to medical care? What if a disaster caused injuries or illness in many people, far more than would normally be seeking medical care on a typical day, and far more than the hospital’s capacity to treat?

    Fourth, routine medical care at a hospital or clinic. What happens if the hospital or clinic is understaffed? The patients need medical care. Will a doctor stand in the street and obligate the first person to pass to enter the facility and become a nurse? Will the involuntary assistant be compensated for their time and effort and opportunity cost of not doing whatever it is they were on their way to do?

    There’s another aspect of this proposed right to consider, and that is the relationship between the victim and whoever is nearby. What would happen if during an attempted robbery or burglary or theft, the victim of the crime is able to successfully defend themselves or their property and in the course of that encounter the criminal becomes injured. What if it was an attempted murder or rape? Is the victim of the first crime or the attempted crime responsible to provide medical care to their own assailant? If they refuse, are they violating the criminal’s right to medical care?

    It’s a virtue to help other people who are in need. People who rush into fire and water to carry out survivors, with potential risk to themselves, are heroes. Mandating that anyone who is nearby provide medical care prevents heroes from taking credit, but more importantly it creates a potential liability for anyone who comes in contact with someone else. Imagine walking down the street one day, and later being sued for not providing medical care to someone who you passed and didn’t even know needed medical care, who later complained that they said something and you ignored them? At best, it would be complaint about something that was unintentional, at worst it would be a deliberate abuse of the system. However, if the right is to seek medical care rather than to obligate people to provide medical care, it eliminates the possibility of this abuse.

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