Es hora de pensar en los derechos de los pacientes: Una introducción
The underlying purpose of the Hippocratic oath and most medical ethics codes dictated during the twentieth century, is patient protection. Nowadays, however, clients of health services do not conform themselves with ethical declarations of the medical profession but demand that the rights that arise from those declarations, become legal instruments that force professionals, health authorities and governments to satisfy their health needs and respect their individual rights. Probably this is a consequence of the depersonalization of medical care, the weakening of ethical bases of physician- patient relationship and the emergence of new economical and social philosophies. Now, clients also have more expectations and a better knowledge about medicine than in yesteryears. Citizen organizations to defend health rights should not be seen as a threaten to medical profession and health institutions but as an opportunity to improve health care and respect towards people. They should not either harm the mutual confidence between the physician and his patient, nor the beneficial spirit of medical act, two fundamental components of medical acts (Rev Méd Chile 2000; 128: 1371-73).