Practitioner Guides

Human Rights in Patient Care: a Practitioner Guide“ is a joint project of the Open Society Foundations’ Law and Health Initiative (LAHI), Human Rights and Governance Grants Program (HRGGP), Russia Project, and the National Foundations in Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

The mission of the Practitioner Guide project is to advance enforcement of legislation to promote human rights in patient care by translating laws and procedures into practical terms for legal practitioners, health care providers, and patients.


Legal, ethical, and human rights norms are an increasingly important component of the delivery of quality medical care. The Open Society Foundations’ work on behalf of society’s most marginalized persons — injection drug users, people living with HIV, sex workers, Roma and other ethnic minorities — has shown that health systems can too often be places of punishment, coercion, and violations of basic rights to consent and confidentiality, rather than places of treatment and care. At the same time, doctors and health practitioners are often constrained in their ability to provide quality care to their patients, or are unaware of how to incorporate ethical and human rights norms into their work. There is an urgent need to support legal and administrative remedies for individual and systemic human rights abuse in health settings, and at the same time to establish non-punitive mechanisms of incorporating normative principles into patient care.

The Practitioner Guides Project

To this end, LAHI, in partnership with seven national foundations and the Russia Project, is supporting the development of a series of Practitioner Guides and companion country websites for lawyers interested in taking patient rights cases. These are practical, how-to manuals, covering both litigation and alternative mechanisms such as ombudspersons and medical licensing bodies. They examine patient and provider rights and responsibilities and procedural mechanisms at national, regional, and international levels. Guides are currently being produced in Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine.


These Practitioner Guides will be used as a basis for training and litigation support. They show particular potential as a resource in clinical legal education programs. Although legal practitioners are the primary audience for the guides, they will also be useful for medical professionals, public health managers, Ministries of Health and Justice, patient advocacy groups, and patients themselves.

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