Nino Kiknadze and Leo Beletsky
Health and Human Rights 2013, 15/2
Background: After gaining independence following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Georgia has aspired to become the region’s leader in progressive legal reform. Particularly in the realm of health care regulation, Georgia has proceeded with extensive legislative reforms intended to modernize its health care system, and bring it in line with international standards.
Objectives/Methods: As part of a larger project to improve human rights in patient care, we conducted a study designed to identify gaps in the current Georgian health care legislation. Using a cross-site research framework based on the European Charter of Patients’ Rights, an interdisciplinary working group oversaw a comprehensive review of human rights legislation pertinent to health care settings using various sources, such as black letter law, expert opinions, court cases, research papers, reports, and complaints.
Results: The study identified a number of serious inconsistencies, gaps, and conflicts in the definition and coverage of terms used in the national legislative canon pertinent to human rights in patient care. These include inconsistent definitions of key terms “informed consent” and “medical malpractice” across the legislative landscape. Imprecise and overly broad drafting of legislation has left concepts like patient confidentiality and implied consent wide open to abuse. The field of health care provider rights was entirely missing from existing Georgian legislation.
Discussion: To our knowledge, this is the first study of its kind in Georgia. Gaps and inconsistencies uncovered were categorized based on a short-, medium-, and long-term action framework. Results were presented to key decision makers in Georgian ministerial and legislative institutions. Several of the major recommendations are currently being considered for inclusion into future legal reform.