The United Nations recognized the vital role of human rights defenders and the UN was convinced that these human rights defenders need to be protected from retaliation for reporting violations of human rights of others. The UN formally defined the defense of human rights as a right in itself and to recognize persons who undertake human rights work as “Human Rights Defenders.”The Resolution 53/144 was adopted in order to protect both human rights defenders and their activities. This is commonly known as the “Declaration on human rights defenders.”
Medical Whistleblowers are human rights defenders. The Hippocratic Oath taken by every Medical Doctor states the Doctors’ responsibility to care for the sick, to report on the welfare of the individual patient and also guard against any bias in the medical care system in relationship to any class of persons. The central moral commitment of the Hippocratic traditional code is its dedication to something other than the physician’s self-interest, that something being the primacy of the welfare of the patient. The Medical Doctor’s clear obligation is to detect and prevent abuse and neglect. Medical Whistleblowers promote the well-being of patients by taking appropriate actions to avert the harms caused by violence and abuse. The duty of the Doctor is to not only address patients’ immediate injuries, but also the psychological and social needs of victims. Medical Whistleblowers need to work closely in conjunction with members of the public safety and law enforcement communities. In the U.S.A. there is mandated reporting of any signs of violence, abuse, or suspicious injuries. This places the Medical Whistleblower in the position of being a human rights defender and possibly facing retaliation by politically or economically powerful adversaries. In the political international context, medical professionals are some of the first reporters of violations of human rights. Medical Whistleblowers report the abuse of the elderly in hospital and nursing home settings, the financial and civil rights violation by guardians of the mentally ill, sexual assault of vulnerable youth in the foster care system, male upon male rape in prisons, neglect or abuse of refugees, and brutality against prisoners of war or psychological torture of terrorist suspects. Often Medical Fraud goes hand in hand with the violation of the patient’s human rights. Criminals who defraud the US Medicaid system by fraudulent charges, false reports and unnecessary procedures on vulnerable patients, do not care that they are causing physical, emotional and financial harm to vulnerable children and adults. These criminals deliberately seek out persons who by their very medical condition, disability, cognitive difficulty, legal immigration status, nationality, or disease state are particularly vulnerable. The right of opinion and expression of Medical Whistleblowers needs to be protected in order to protect these vulnerable patients.