Rethinking the Protection of Vulnerable Groups in the Pandemic Situation (SARS-COVID 19): The Necessity to Implement the HRA and Human Security Framework into the Healthcare Professionals and Caregivers
Purpose: Changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the organisation of medical care and medical social work provided to patients as part of end-of-life care, make it necessary to re-evaluate the ethical and legal obligations for the protection of this particularly vulnerable groups. Design/Methodology/Approach: This article draws attention to palliative care, a specific form of medical care, and in particular to end-of-life care. Changes in medical practice and medical social work caused by the pandemic, while epidemiologically justified, in many cases lead to violations of the selected European and global standards of care, including end-of-life care. The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated, also in Europe, how difficult it is to meet social, medical, and legal standards of care for terminal patients while limiting the possibility of virus transmission. Findings: Patients and their relatives suffer great mental discomfort caused by violations of certain standards of care resulting from an elevated sanitary regime in medical facilities. Such violations can be regarded as violations of patients’ rights and of human rights in broader terms. Practical implications: We recommend standardising and popularising the following three parallel solutions to facilitate their funding: 1/ preparing and implementing technical infrastructure to make possible for patients to meet in person with their family and relatives, while preventing physical contact; 2/ extending the use of video chat technologies in hospitals and hospices; 3/ implementing educational activities addressed to patients, their families, and medical staff. These standards positively influence patients’ quality of life and, at the same time, make it possible to meet the ethical and legal requirements of medical care. Originality/value: This article included in our depth legal and axiological analyses, and will contribute to the overall strengthening of the value-based health policy of vulnerable groups as the implementation of HRA and human security framework for physician and social workers (caregivers) developed in response to the current pandemic crisis are now becoming an urgent global need.