Health is one of the important issues which runs in every mind of human being. Every human wants to live a happy and healthy life. But many a time due to uncertainties we have to visit a doctor because of not being healthy. Our health is in desired need of medical attention. Everything the doctor says or does is considered a part of the treatment or recovery process and looked at as the gospel truth. We would rather just keep quiet and bear the pain instead of raising our voices. A ‘grin and bear’ attitude does exist in all of us, and it is deeply rooted in fear – fear of losing a loved one or of getting inadequate care and attention.
There are many times happened that a doctor or hospital or a health care institution has overlooked the rights of patients. So, patients have the right to claim their rights from the doctor or hospital or a health care institution. Patients’ rights emanate from human rights, constitutional rights, civil rights, and consumer rights, codes of ethics of the medical and nursing profession. The Indian Constitution bestows certain rights on the citizens. One of them is Right to life. Right to a healthy life is an integral part of the Right to life. WHO’s definition of health includes physical, mental, social, environmental and spiritual aspects of health. Any threat to health care must be considered as a denial of the Right to Life. Basic optimal health care is the right of every Indian citizen and it is the responsibility of the state to provide it. The Government in the country has legislated certain laws to protect the citizens. Some of these are The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, The Medical Council Act and The Consumer Protection Act. The codes of ethics of medical and nursing councils define the duties of the doctors and nurses towards the patients. Thus these duties form the basis of patient’s rights.
The Patient’s Bill of Rights has been popularized in the USA by the American Hospital Association and all these rights should apply to all patients, all over the world! Patients in India are so used to being at the “receiving end” of medical care, that they sometimes forget that they do have rights!
Recommended read: RIGHTS OF MEDIA IN INDIA
Some of the rights of patients are:
- Access to Care–
Every individual should have the right to access to treatment irrespective of its race, creed, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or source of payment.
- Respect and Dignity–
The patient has the right to considerate, respectful care at all times, under all circumstances, with recognition of his personal dignity and worth. The hospital staff and other should be sensitive towards their needs.
- Privacy and Confidentiality–
Personal or medical details of your condition and treatment may not be needlessly disclosed to others at any time. In most cases, you must give permission before anyone not directly involved in your case is given information about you. All communications and medical records (messages between you and your physician, hospital charts, test results, X-rays, etc.) must be kept private. You must give permission for the release of your records for specific purposes in most cases.
The patient has the right to obtain from the practitioner responsible for coordinating his care, complete and current information concerning his diagnosis (to the degree known), treatment, pain management, and any known prognosis. This information should be communicated in terms the patient can reasonably be expected to understand. When it is not medically advisable to give such information to the patient, the information shall be made available to a legally authorized individual.
The patient has the right to know the identity and professional status of individuals providing service and which physician or other practitioner is primarily responsible for his care. This includes the patient’s right to know of the existence of any professional relationship among individuals who are treating him, as well as the relationship to any healthcare or educational institutions involved in his care. Participation by patients in research programs, or in the gathering of data for research purposes, shall be voluntary with a signed informed consent.
The patient has the right to reasonably informed participation in decisions involving his/her health care. To the degree possible, this shall be based on a clear, concise explanation of his/her condition and of all proposed technical procedures, including the possibilities of any risk of mortality or serious side effects, problems related to recuperation, and the probability of success. The patient shall not be subjected to any procedure without his/her voluntary, competent, and informed consent, or that of his/her legally authorized representative. Where medically significant alternatives for care or treatment exist, the patient shall be so informed. The patient may refuse treatment to the extent permitted by law. When refusal of treatment by the patient or his/her legally authorized representative prevents the provision of appropriate care in accordance with ethical and professional standards, the relationship with the patient may be terminated upon reasonable notice.
- Transfer and Continuity of Care–
A patient may not be transferred to another facility unless he/she has received a complete explanation of the need for the transfer and the alternatives to such a transfer, and unless the transfer is acceptable to the other facility. The patient has the right to be informed by the responsible practitioner or his/her delegate of any continuing healthcare requirements following discharge from the hospital.
It is well said that with rights come responsibility. So some of the responsibilities of patients are:
- Providing accurate and complete information about medical complaints, past illnesses, hospitalizations, medications, pain, and other matters relating to their health.
- Following the treatment plan recommended by those responsible for their care.
- Their actions if they refuse treatment or do not follow the healthcare team’s instructions.
- Seeing that their bills are paid as promptly as possible; following hospital rules and regulations.
- Being considerate of the rights of other patients and hospital personnel.
- Seeking information, and in the event, they have questions, asking them.