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The Importance of Health Care Policy in Society


The core function of any hospital setting is to provide society with complete healthcare. To achieve this, they require strategies to govern them. Hence, health care policies are formulated to offer healthcare practitioners guidelines on how to carry out their daily activities and for making decisions. These policies have been used for years and they have proved to be vital in providing clarity to healthcare workers when they are faced with cases that are of paramount importance to the health and safety of patients. The guidelines help in guiding clinicians on matters concerning legal obligations and regulatory requirements. They also communicate a hospital’s desired outcomes to its employees and help them in understanding their roles and responsibilities in serving society. Generally, policies help in optimizing the productivity and efficiency of any health facility.

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Role of Health Policy

It entails the rights and responsibilities of a government, society and health practitioners in matters regarding health. On health care, each stakeholder has a role to play and there are expectations of what they should fulfil. The government has a responsibility of financing and pooling resources that will aid in health development, provide a framework on resource allocation and distribution and also sponsor researches, education and training of healthcare providers. Health practitioners are expected to promote health, deliver health care services to society and prevent development of diseases through vaccinations and educating the society. In turn, society is expected to abide by the provided guidelines to promote health. The law also protects the society by addressing non-communicable diseases such as smoking and factors causing them, protecting the rights of patients, and ensuring the safety and efficacy of drugs. Moreover, they control hospital operations by regulating how health information is collected and used and controlling hospital activities.

Law in the Society

The constitution of a country contains laws that provide a framework used in making decisions on disagreements amongst people of a given country. It creates a system that enables citizens to report their disputes before a jury. Moreover, it outlines a legal process to be followed in solving the argument. To maintain order in a society, the law sets standards that should be observed by all residents failure to which, the culprits are held accountable for trying to create a conflict. The law ensures individual or cooperation rights are upheld by protecting people from other people, organizations, and even governments.

Without the set standards, there would be chaos all over and citizens will have to protect themselves since there would be no police or the judiciary system.

As per the law, the government has the responsibility of maintaining its population’s health. Hence, there are several agencies in the health department to reach marginalized communities. For example, the Health Resources and Service Administration has a role of reaching geographically isolated or medically vulnerable communities. The Indian Health Services focus on Alaska Natives and American Indians.

Problems Facing Policy and Law

In some scenarios, conflicts arise between following the health policies and upholding the law. For instance, in the University of Utah, a nurse was arrested because she refused to draw a blood sample from an unconscious patient. Additionally, the police officer lacked a legal warrant to permit the collection blood as evidence.

There is a big difference between the roles of a police and those of a health practitioner.

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Therefore, problems arise as the police try to uphold the law while health practitioners are dealing with emergency health conditions. If a crime goes wrong and the culprits are fatally injured, it is the obligation of doctors to save their lives despite their deeds. On the other hand, the police also need to maintain law and order by ensuring the criminals are brought to justice. It leads to a conflict as the two entities try to accomplish their jobs.

The 21st Century Cures Act main aim is the promotion and speedy approval of new health devices and medications into the market. Even though this will allow for quicker and easier access to drugs by patients, there is increased risk of using the medicines since the laid process will not allow time to collected substantial data for analysing the drug’s efficacy and safety margins.

One of the issues facing health policies is marginalization of the interest groups. These stakeholders do not have the power to make policies; they only have limited abilities in influencing decisions made by policymakers (Teitelbaum & Wilensky, 2019). It is unfair to them considering the roles they play in forming the bridge between the government and the citizens, monitoring activities and rallying massive campaigns in swaying decisions that are key in health matters.

The policy landscapes may fail to provide clear guidelines to the expectations of health practitioners. It leads to interpretive ambiguities and consequently, ad hoc negotiations regarding how, where and when police activities can be carried out in a hospital setting.

Some of the problems that may arise from these include informal, unintended and illegal gain of patient or their health information by law enforcers.

Patients may get themselves in a position where they cannot distinguish a clinician from a police officer. Therefore, during questions, they can become adamant to pass vital information to health officers that may help in formulating their treatment plan. Jacoby et al. (2018) researched that in Philadelphia, black patients were reluctant to communicate their situation because of interactions with police when they are in the emergency care.

Importance of Policy Making

In matters pertaining health, there are several stakeholders involved; health practitioners, law enforcers, interest groups, and state and local governments. Having policies which accommodate all stakeholders will ensure efficiency in healthcare.

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The long standing tradition due to different perceptions between the health systems and criminal justice systems has reduced collaborations between the two parties. With the making of policies to address these stalemate, there will be improved collaboration between clinicians and police in upholding the law and reducing violence.

Shepherd and Sumner (2017) reviewed data from the US Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey and they discovered that between 2006 and 2010, there were over 52% of violence incidents that occurred in the United States of America are never reported to the police. This percentage can be greatly reduced by creating policies that provide a channel for communication between police and doctors without them interfering with their roles.

Some health interventions cannot be put into work by health workers. A good example is implementing community policies set to regulate alcohol establishments. These policies include restricting sale of alcohol to under-age children, or operation hours. In such a scenario, the health system needs law enforces to affect the policies.

Even though clinicians are not experts regarding the law, it is their responsibility to safeguard the health status of their patients. Therefore, the policies will provide them with a guideline and empower them on the necessary steps to take.

The policies will inform the law enforces that the patient’s health is a top priority in any hospital setting. This will protect the patients from being interviewed unless the clinicians pronounce them to be in a stable condition. Moreover, the policies will outline how the police are to handle a criminal who is in the emergency department.


Health law, policies, and constitutional law are essential to society. However, when a conflict arises between the two systems, it may cause complications on a patient’s health or obstruction of the law.

Therefore, guidelines must be put in place to avoid such conflicts and enable each party perform their duties in service to society.


Jacoby, S. F., Richmond, T. S., Holena, D. N., & Kaufman, E. J. (2018). A safe haven for the injured? Urban trauma care at the intersection of healthcare, law enforcement, and race. Social Science & Medicine, 199, 115-122. Web.

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Lynch, H. F. (2016). Four key issues in health law that are as relevant as ever in 2016. Health Affairs Blog. Web.

Shepherd, J. P., & Sumner, S. A. (2017). Policing and public health—strategies for collaboration. JAMA, 317(15), 1525-1526. Web.

Teitelbaum, J. B., & Wilensky, S. E. (2019). Essentials of health policy and law (4th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

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