Your rights as a patient in India!!
Hospitals represent belief, hope, second chances, recovery and rehabilitation. It, however, can quickly turn into a place of anxiety, financial stress and confusion. With the only objective to save a life, one tends to blindly trust and follow instructions in a hospital. Often such a situation becomes quite tempting to be taken advantage of. Therefore, it is extremely important that you know all your basic rights when you visit a doctor or enter a hospital. In the present blog post, we shall become aware of such rights. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to serve this purpose has recently released a ‘Charter of Patients Rights’ that compiles the lawful rights as stated in the Constitution of India.
1. Right to Information
You have a right to know everything about your illness, diagnosis, procedure, treatment, cost of treatment(in writing), medicines and the cause and effect related to it and appropriate alternatives. If the patient himself/herself is not in a state to properly understand it, it is the duty of the doctor to provide the same information to his/her guardian or caretaker. Informing alone is not enough, the information must be simplified enough the patients’ understanding. Using heavy medical terminologies and concepts will be deemed to be not informed.
2. Right to records and reports
Patients or their respective caretakers have the right to access the originals or copies of the case file, patient records, reports and also certificates as and when needed. The hospital is responsible for providing a discharge summary or a death summary, in the case of a death, to the caretakers or kin of the patient with original copies of investigations. Remember, you have every right to go through every sheet of paper from the start to end of your treatment and no doctor or the hospital staff can deny you.
3. Right to a second opinion
Visiting a doctor does not restrict you in any way to go and visit several doctors for the same issue. It is the duty of the doctors and the hospital to respect your decision if you choose to seek a second opinion from a doctor/hospital of your choice. You can do this even after you have started with the treatment in one hospital. The hospital is responsible for handing over all records and other relevant information. The hospital can neither stop you nor discourage you from going elsewhere, but only give a detailed explanation of the health condition and repercussions in case of delay in treatment. In case, you return back to the previous hospital, they cannot compromise the quality of treatment being provided to you.
4.Right to emergency medical care
In an emergency situation, straightly, you can avail medical care in any government or private hospital. You are not required to pay full or an advanced fee to the hospital. Under Article 21 of the Constitution, which ensures that every person has the right to life and personal liberty, you have the right to prompt emergency care by doctors without compromise on quality or safety. If they do not provide you with emergency services, you or your legal representative can file a suit or petition against such hospital for negligently putting your life at risk.
5. Right to informed consent
If a hospital decides upon carrying a diagnosis or treatment procedure be it a blood test, chemotherapy or surgery, it cannot proceed without your expressed consent. In no way can a doctor assume or imply your consent. The doctor primarily in charge of a patient has to explain the risks, consequences and procedure of the investigation or surgery in detail and a simple language before taking the consent of the patient or his/her caretaker, as the case may be.
6. Right to safety and quality care according to standards
You have a right to Cleanliness, infection control measures and sanitation facilities, sanitized instruments and safe drinking water. Healthcare that abides by the latest standards, norms and guidelines under the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals (NABH). You also have a right to be attended to, treated and cared for in a professional manner and with the principles of medical ethics.
So, if you visit a hospital and there are stains of ‘chewed paan masala’ or the floor is not mobbed properly, you can file a complaint against the hospital, mentioning your aforementioned right to cleanliness in a hospital.
7. Right to non-discrimination
No hospital, no doctor, no staff can discriminate amongst their patients or anyone who has reached them for medical help on the basis of their illness, HIV condition, gender, age, religion, caste, ethnicity, sexual orientation, linguistic or geographical or social origins. If such discrimination is made one can file a writ petition directly before the honourable Supreme Court of India.
8. Right to choose the source for obtaining medicines or tests
As a patient or a caretaker, you have the right to choose which pharmacy you wish to buy your medicines and other medical supplies from.
Also, as a patient, you have a right to choose the diagnostic centre or laboratory(must be registered under the National Accreditation Board for Laboratories) for your diagnosis and different tests which needs to be done.
9. Right to proper referral and transfer, which is free from perverse commercial influences
If for the patient’s good, the doctor advises getting transferred to another hospital or health centre, a detailed report with the reasons recorded for such a need is the patient’s right. Along with it, it must also mention the medicines, diagnosis or treatment that needs to be continued after the transfer.
10. Right to be discharged, Right to receive the body of a deceased person from the hospital
A patient has the right to be discharged and cannot be detained in a hospital, on procedural grounds such as [a] dispute in payment of hospital charges. Similarly, caretakers have the right to the dead body of a patient who had been treated in a hospital, and the dead body cannot be detained on procedural grounds, including non-payment/dispute regarding payment of hospital charges against wishes of the caretakers.
11. Right to confidentiality, human dignity and privacy
The doctor is bound by his duty to not disclose or discuss the conditions of his patients to anybody else other than the patients or his caretaker unless such disclosure is an exceptional case where sharing this information is “in the interest of protecting other or due to public health considerations. In case a female patient demands the presence of a female practitioner, she shall be provided with one. The hospital and its staff are bound by duty to protect and uphold their patients’dignity irrespective of their gender.
These were a few of the main rights you possess as a patient. I hope you will remember this when you visit a hospital or a doctor the next time.