While proactive steps are being taken to protect healthcare professionals it is necessary empower patients against exploitation from healthcare establishments. Discuss

It is laudable that the Centre has drafted a bill to protect healthcare professionals and hospitals against violence. But not many attempts are made to provide similar legal protection for patients against violations and exploitations in hospitals.

Protecting the Patients

The first step in this direction would be the implementation of the National Human Rights Commission’s Patient Rights Charter and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s circular on patients’ rights.

Patients’ Rights Charter of NHRC
  • The Patients’ Rights Charter of NHRC delineates 17 rights which should be honoured by all public and private healthcare establishments.
  • These rights pertain to the getting information about their illness, treatment and costs; their right to access records and reports; the right to seek second opinion; the right to emergency medical care irrespective of paying capacity; the right to transparency in rates; right to choose a pharmacy or pathology laboratory; the right to discharge a patient or receive a dead body, without detention by the hospital; the right to grievance redressal.
  • The NHRC charter also includes certain patient responsibilities, including the obligation to share required information with healthcare providers, and not to indulge in violence in healthcare institutions.
Circular of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

The circular of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare outlines a set of rights and responsibilities for patients. These rights include 17 patients’ rights in the standards related to the Central Clinical Establishments Act (CEA).

This would ensure that all healthcare facilities in 11 states, which have adopted this Act, will observe patients’ rights.

Way Forward

The current asymmetry of power in the healthcare sector between patients and health care establishments must be addressed on priority. The implementation of the NHRC Patients’ Rights Charter and the MoHFW’s circular on patients’ rights are good starting points for such a purpose.

Published: October 23, 2019 | Modified:December 1, 2019

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