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In the past safeguarding legislation has focused on protecting children and vulnerable persons such as older persons and those with disabilities. Dignity4Patients firm belief is that all adults, regardless of age, when accessing healthcare are vulnerable and should be included in any safeguarding legislation.

Why do we believe all patients are vulnerable?

Vulnerability can arise as a result of a mismatch between the needs of a person accessing healthcare, their knowledge and comprehension and the practitioners power, reaction and consideration of the individual person needing their help.


Why a person seeking healthcare services is often vulnerable:-

  • They may be stressed or anxious when accessing healthcare.

  • They may be experiencing physical pain, a loss of control or emotional distress.

  • They may have reduced cognitive ability due to the above or medication.

  • They may be nervous of the healthcare environment or medical team.

  • They may be unclear of the treatment offered or the alternatives.

  • They may be confused due to limited understanding or communication.

  • They may have limited knowledge or unfamiliar with medical terminology.

  • They are vulnerable to the power dynamics of the practitioner / patient relationship.



The experience of vulnerability can affect a patients physiological, psychological and social functioning. For these reasons, Dignity4Patients believes safeguarding legislation should apply to everyone accessing healthcare regardless of their age or their status as children, young persons, adults, or older persons or those with disabilities.

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