About Patients' Rights
In India, most of us visit a hospital or a doctor in case of immediate medical attention, in such situations doctor’s word is considered ultimate and every aspect of the treatment is taken as an ultimate truth. Given the paternalistic model of physician patient relation, physician becomes the decision maker and gives a little choice to the patients in the treatment. Additionally, there could be experiences of irrational laboratory testing, excess medications which are received by the patients without questioning the practitioner.
Indian health care system is unequally divided between the public and private sector with more than 80% of the care provided by private sector. Over the years, growth of the private sector has been considerable in various sectors including hospitals, blood banks, pharmaceutical industry as well as insurance provisioning. Despite the huge growth in investment in the private sector across all regions & increasing usage, there is no proper mechanism for regulation or required provision of benchmarks for standard of care, unlike the public health sector, which has norms for all facilities, from hospitals to dispensaries. The regulatory and institutional mechanisms are weak in both public and private sectors. Studies over the past 20 years have demonstrated the poor quality of care, over-hospitalisation, excess use of technology in diagnosis and treatment, over-prescription of drugs, absence of standardisation of fee structures and poor record-keeping, money spent by the patients does not guarantee them the quality of care. In this context, it is important for patients to recognize, that providers are accountable for the services they provide. As health care consumers, patients and their relatives should understand their rights as patients which can enable them to avail better health care. There is dire need for a platform which will provide quality information and will educate citizens of their rights as patients while seeking health care.
Concept of patients’s rights stems from the universal declaration of human rights 1948 which grants us the right to life, liberty and security. In the Indian context, the status of the patients rights is unclear. Medical council of India during 2002 came up with a code of ethics which describes the duties of the practitioner; however it lacks the necessary information about the patients rights. CEHAT came up with a charter of patients’ rights as a part of the BNHRA amendments during 2005. The core concept of patient rights charter revolves around a minimum equitable access to quality medical care with assurance of patient privacy /confidentiality, obtaining consent before employing any medical intervention and providing a safe clinical environment. The patient rights charter document serves as a basic framework to ensure efficient and effective functioning of the entire health care delivery system.
The objectives of the patient rights charter are
- To strengthen consumer confidence by assuring that the health care delivery system is fair and responsive to consumer needs, provides consumers with credible and effective mechanism to address their concerns and encourages consumer to take an active role in improving and assuring their health
- To re-affirm the importance of nurturing a strong trusting relationship between patient’ s & their health care providers
- To re-iterate the critical role consumers play in safeguarding their health by establishing rights and responsibility for all participants upon their health.
Link to CEHAT patients rights brochure
At present the situation of the patient’s rights remains completely neglected. the big corporate hospitals claim to take care of the patients rights, however each of the hospitals seem to have derived their own versions of it without any convenience
The latest form of the patient’s charter had been jointly prepared by Rugna Hakka Samiti-Pune, Jan Aarogya Abhiyan, Indian Medical Association-Pune(IMA) and Federation of Obsteric and Gynaecological Societies of India-FOGSI, and JSA in 2010.
Link to the latest patient’s rights charter