RIGHTS OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES ON SURGICAL HEALTH CARE IN THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA – DE LEGE LATA
Sunčana Roksandić Vidlička, Lada Zibar, Jozo Čizmić, Kristijan Grđan
Jehovah’s Witnesses’ (JW) rights must be the same as for the rest of the citizens. Blood transfusion (BT) refusal, as ordered by JW’s religion presents an obstacle for accomplishment some risky treatment modalities. Bleeding that could complicate some medical procedures could jeopardize patient’s life. Avoiding BT by preceeding procedures could prevent consequences to certain extent, but there is not substitute for blood as such, as it is common met in lay media. The Law in Croatia guarantees that a treatment must be in accordance with patient’s approval or refusal of specific medical procedure. In every particular case there is a need for assessment of the bleeding risk, and if the risk is not significant, the treatment should be performed. If the physician or the institution were not able to accept even that lower risk, the patient should be redirected and offered the treatment by another physician or institution, capable for such treatment modality. Patient’s consent for that treatment without consent to BT does not oblige physician to participate in the treatment only if there is a substantial risk for bleeding. On the other hand, Act on Medical Practice in the Republic of Croatia prescribes that saving life is mandatory for a physician, rendering BT in a patient with major bleeding the sole option. Having in mind that the relevant Law is not complete and that the regulations are contradictory, and that the Republic of Croatia must accept the European Union legislation and is bound by Europaen Convention on Human Rights, in the case of giving BT against a patient’s will physicians must count on being considered as violating the Convention.