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Inicio Revista Española de Anestesiología y Reanimación (English Edition) COVID-19: Ethics and human rights in clinical practice
Journal Information
Vol. 68. Issue 10.
Pages 612-613 (December 2021)
Vol. 68. Issue 10.
Pages 612-613 (December 2021)
Letter to the Director
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COVID-19: Ethics and human rights in clinical practice
COVID-19: ética y derechos humanos en la práctica clínica
M.E. Regalado Chamorro
Corresponding author

Corresponding author.
, A.R. Medina Gamero
Universidad Privada del Norte, Lima, Peru
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To the Editor:

The outbreak of COVID-19 worldwide has highlighted the lack of systems to protect people and families affected by this disease. For this reason, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a principle autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), issued a general guideline calling on member states to respect the human rights of people with this disease by adopting an intersectional and multidisciplinary approach that recognizes and asserts human dignity. The objective: to establish the “Inter-American Guidelines regarding the Human Rights of Persons with COVID-19”1.

People who suffer from this disease have the right to receive the best possible care and treatment in accordance with ethical professional practices applied by healthcare personnel and those in charge of public health institutions.

The article “A moment for reflection. Ethical aspects in the pandemic SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 in our clinical practice”2 confirms the need to implement specific measures, consistent criteria, and basic ethical principles in order to guide and support health professionals and organizations in this health crisis. This is why it is so important to analyse the most relevant clinical practice guidelines on compliance with the human rights of patients and their families.

The first guideline concerns the need to protect the right to equality and non-discrimination of people infected by coronavirus who are the victims of stigmatisation and discriminatory behaviour. States have the duty to act swiftly to protect infected people who, in addition to being ill, suffer rejection because they are poor, because they belong to an indigenous population, because they are deprived of their liberty, because they are women victims of gender violence. In other words, all those that are vulnerable have the right to be treated equally3.

The second guideline concerns the need to protect the right of these patients and their families to information. States, therefore, have the obligation to provide them with all the information relating to their clinical history, aetiology, symptoms, forms of transmission, and possible treatments, among other factors. This will allow SARS-CoV-2 patients to cope with adversity with evidence and proof4.

Third, States must protect SARS-CoV-2 patients’ personal data and their right to confidentiality and privacy. Public or private actors must obtain informed consent from infected persons before using data related to their illness. In other words, these actors must inform persons with COVID-19 of the purpose for which those data will be used and the kind of geolocation tracking to which they will be subjected.

Fourth, people with COVID-19 have the right of access to justice. States must allocate the resources needed to investigate irregularities in the diagnosis, treatment, and medical rehabilitation they may have received In other words, proof and evidence must be preserved, such as proper registration and safekeeping of clinical records and autopsy findings, and human remains must be analysed by qualified specialists5.

Finally, it is essential that governments guarantee the availability of support systems for professionals providing protection to those affected by COVID-19 and their families. The general guideline of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights compels States to comply with certain rules. It is also important that while transitioning toward full reactivation of their economies, States continue to respect the main rights of individuals infected by the virus and use all due diligence to prevent human rights violations.


There are no public or private sources of funding.

Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos. Derechos Humanos de las personas con Covid-19. Available from: https://www.oas.org/es/cidh/decisiones/pdf/Resolucion-4-20-es.pdf. [Accessed 27 January 2021].
M.J. Yepes-Temiño, R. Callejas González, J.M. Álvarez Avello.
Un momento para la reflexión. Aspectos éticos en la pandemia SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 en nuestra práctica clínica.
Rev Esp Anestesiol Reanim, 68 (2021), pp. 28-36
C. Martin-Fumadó, E.L. Gómez-Durán, M. Morlans-Molina.
Consideraciones éticas y médico-legales sobre la limitación de recursos y decisiones clínicas en la pandemia de la COVID-19.
Rev Esp Med Legal, 46 (2020), pp. 119-126
O. Rubio, A. Estella, L. Cabre, I. Saralegui-Reta, M.C. Martin, L. Zapata, et al.
Ethical recommendations for a difficult decision-making in intensive care units due to the exceptional situation of crisis by the COVID-19 pandemic: a rapid review & consensus of experts.
Med Intensiva, 44 (2020), pp. 439-445
A. Saxena, P. Horby, J. Amuasi, N. Aagaard, J. Köhler, E.S. Gooshki, et al.
Ethics preparedness: facilitating ethics review during outbreaks-recommendations from an expert panel.
BMC Med Ethics, 20 (2019), pp. 1-10

Please cite this article as: Regalado Chamorro ME, Medina Gamero AR. COVID-19: ética y derechos humanos en la práctica clínica. Rev Esp Anestesiol Reanim. 2021;68:612–613.

Copyright © 2021. Sociedad Española de Anestesiología, Reanimación y Terapéutica del Dolor
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