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Rediscovering dignity at the bedside

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 26 July 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:167
  1. Irene J Higginson, professor of palliative care,
  2. S Hall, lecturer in palliative care
  1. Department of Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation, King's College London, London SE5 9RJ
  1. irene.higginson{at}

    It is possible to teach the ABCD of preserving patients' dignity

    It was a comfort when Gerasim sat with him sometimes the whole night through . . . Gerasim was the only one who did not lie; everything he did showed that he alone understood what was happening, and saw no need to conceal it . . . and so the relationship was a comfort to him.

    From Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

    The Oxford English Dictionary defines dignity as “the state of being worthy of honour or respect” or “high regard or estimation.” The 1948 universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union recognise dignity as a human right.1 Improving dignity in care is a core theme in guidance from many governments across the globe. For example, in England the Department of Health launched a policy earlier this year to “create a zero tolerance of lack of dignity in the care of older people in any care setting.”2 But how are …

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