In our country many people suffering from ailments are often not handed the best possible medical treatment as a significant percentage of them are not aware of their rights as a patient while getting themselves treated in a hospital or being attended to by a general physician.
It has been observed that the kind of medical treatment rendered to a patient depends on a number of factors like the patient’s gender, age, economic status, and level of education. Female patients may be given less information, or choice about their treatment, though greater confidentiality may be maintained about them.
Patients coming from a rural background with low education levels are not attended with seriousness and eased out with not the best possible treatment. Whereas patients from the higher economic strata avail better medical facilities and have a higher autonomy than the less privileged.
Taking note of this prevailing menace in the medical system, the Medical Council of India published a Code of Ethics Regulations (COER) in 2002 which deals with the duties and responsibilities of physicians in addition to certain rights of patients. The Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI) has a more comprehensive charter on its website listing specific rights of a patient.
So here are certain rights a patient must be aware when they get themselves treated by a physician:
- Right to considerate and respectful care.
- Right to information on diagnosis, treatment, and medicines.
- Right to obtain all the relevant information about the professionals involved in the patient
- Right to expect that all the communications and records pertaining to his/her case be treated as confidential.
- Right to every consideration of his/her privacy concerning his/her medical care programme.
- Right to expect prompt treatment in an emergency
- Right to refuse to participate in human experimentation, research, project affecting his/her care or treatment.
- Right to get copies of medical records.
- Right to know what hospital rules and regulations apply to him/her as a patient and the facilities obtainable to the patient.
- Right to get details of the bill.
- Right to be told in advance what an operation is for and the possible risks involved.
- If this is not possible because of your being unconscious or for some other reasons, your nearest relatives must be told before they consent to the operation.
- Right to seek second opinion about his/her disease, treatment, etc.
- If a patient is to be discharged or moved to another hospital, you have a right to be informed in advance and to make your own choice of hospital of nursing home, in consultation with the doctor.