Patients and Their Relatives Right to Receive Spiritual Health Care in the Republic of Latvia

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


    The study analyses the Law On the Rights of Patients of the Republic of Latvia (fifth paragraph of Article 3) which states that the patient and his or her relatives has right to receive spiritual health care which, in accordance with the laws and regulations governing the activities of chaplain services and religious organisations, shall be provided by the chaplain of a medical treatment institution. This law is considered as a unique and specific patient right and the purpose of this law is very closely linked to the human right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
    The author of the study has analysed national legal acts, scientific literature in the field of medical law and the results of the circulated questionnaire as to the effectiveness, and the efforts made in Latvian hospitals to implement the fifth paragraph of Article 3.
    Following the results of the study the author concludes that the purpose of spiritual health care is to help patient and his or her relatives identify and address their mental needs, and to receive support and religious consultations in the health care process of patients, especially in the event of major illnesses. Thus national regulation of Republic of Latvia does not provide or specify exactly how spiritual health care should be organized in the medical treatment institutions – only in hospitals, private ambulatory health care institutions or all medical treatment institutions. Legislation is unclear as to whether all chaplains should be registered as a medical support persons – on the one hand there are hospitals that have only general religious chaplains and elsewhere chaplains who are registered as medical support persons. There are also hospitals which are only represented by a general community priest.
    The chaplain services of spiritual health care doesn’t include right to manifest freedom of religion. The patient has the right to manifest freedom of religion as a person who has human rights. In accordance with Law On Religious Organisations of Republic of Latvia (fifth and six paragraph of Article 14) religious activities may be performed in hospitals if the persons present therein so wish. The anticipated time and place for an event shall be co-ordinated with the administration of the hospital. The activities of religious organisations and believers shall only be restricted in those cases when the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Latvia are violated. National regulation does not provide or specify how permission to perform a religious manifestation should be given and which persons’ wishes should be taken into account when taking a decision. Legal regulation of the Law On Religious Organisations, in which the manifestation of religion in the hospital may be restricted, may be contradictious in assessing it with legal acts which protects human rights. Likewise legal regulation doesn’t provide or specify any regulation of patient’s right to manifest freedom of religion in other medical treatment institutions, which are not hospitals.
    Based on the analysed data the author has put forward proposals for improving the national legal acts:
    of the criteria governing the procedures for the development of the spiritual health care in medical treatment institutions;
    of the laws and regulations governing the legal status of the professional health care chaplain;
    of the laws and regulations of religious manifestation in medical treatment institutions and the duties of the chaplain according to this.
    Period22 May 202023 May 2020
    Event title14th International Conference on Religion and Human Rights
    Event typeConference
    LocationBarcelona, SpainShow on map
    Degree of RecognitionInternational

    Field of Science

    • 5.5 Law