A Duty of Care
2017-12-20 | Colleen O'Carroll

Definition: A Duty of Care: In tort law, a duty of care is a legal obligation which is imposed on an individual requiring adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others. It is the first element that must be established to proceed with an action in negligence.

In health care, the principle of "duty of care" is that you have an obligation to avoid acts or omissions, which could be reasonably foreseen to injure or harm the other people.  This means that you must anticipate risks for your 'clients' and take care to prevent them from coming to harm.

Doctors have had the responsibility since Hippocrates-days to deliver care to their patients - somewhere along the way it would be prudent of the "patient" to have a similar duty of care to not only themselves, but to their family.  The broad societal acceptance of patients having reciprocal obligations to maintain their OWN health and to adapt their lifestyles in terms of new research and trends in disease prevention, is lagging far behind.

The primary burden of disease has shifted over the last 30 to 40 years from infectious disease to lifestyle-associated diseases - i.e. those diseases related to our own activity, or often, the lack thereof.  Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, smoking and alcohol-related diseases - all these diseases should somewhere along the line be the responsibility of the "patient" to have a Duty of Care to both himself/herself as well as their loved ones.

Despite all the thousands of websites, Facebook pages and groups, magazine articles, videos on YouTube etc, covering topics pertaining to one’s health and well-being, the message of "taking ownership" of one’s health via general diet, a minimum level of exercise, avoiding drugs and alcohol - has not yet appeared to have "sunk in".

Our own actions are especially important in an era of lifestyle disease, where the outcomes are essentially dependent upon our own behaviour and attitudes.

Taking steps to ensure their own good health is as simple as:

  • taking steps to avoid unnecessary medical interventions
  • develop one's own plan of action going forward to make certain changes in one's lifestyle to ensure better health.  This can of course be done in conjunction with one's primary health care provider.
  • Having a plan in place makes it easier to achieve one's goals.  Achieving these goals of "good health or better health" certainly shows a Duty of Care towards one's loved ones but ultimately to oneself.

We cannot continue to eat and drink whatever we choose, smoke, take drugs, be inactive and not understand that everything we do impacts our health and our lives.

Let’s begin 2018 with a Duty of Care to OURSELVES.

The DBM Team with all their readers a Blessed Festive Season and a most relaxing and cleansing rest-period.  Our wish for everyone reading this website is that 2018 will bring a new healthier you to the fore. 

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