Rights of Patients In India

Law
13-May-2024
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While hospitals may be shelters of hope, second chances, and healing, they can also be extremely stressful and expensive for a lot of individuals. When someone close to us is seriously ill or hurt, we often have unequivocally faith in the healthcare workers at the hospital. In this article, we will discuss the importance and various aspects of the patient's rights. This helps us to gain a deeper understanding of the ethical responsibilities inherent in healthcare delivery.

 

Importance of Patients Rights

Healthcare is one fundamental right to which everyone has access at all times. In an emergency, most individuals head straight to the hospital. While most patients receive the appropriate therapy based on their diagnosis, there are certain incidents of excess medication, excessive dosage, unnecessary hospitalization, unreasonable treatment costs, suspicious lab tests, and so on.

Here comes the importance of Patient Rights, which gives the patient or patient's family the right to know and understand their ongoing treatment, including the costs.

 

What is the Patient's Bill of Rights?

The Patient's Bill of Rights is a framework that covers the provision of healthcare that is sensitive to cultural differences. Although the bill differs, it usually safeguards a patient's right to impartial care, complete and correct information, and the capacity to make decisions on their own medical care.

Patients need to anticipate care that respects their cultural beliefs and is sensitive and dignified. The fundamental ideas of the Patient's Bill of Rights highlight the significance of cultural competency in patient care, even though its application goes beyond cultural factors.

  • Patients have a right to know about the long and short-term financial consequences of treatment alternatives.
  • Under hospital policy and state legislation, healthcare facilities notify patients of their rights to make educated medical decisions, inquire about the existence of any advance directives, and document this information in the patient's file.
  • The patient has the right to prompt notice of any hospital policies that would restrict their capacity to carry out a legitimate advance request.
  • The patient has the right to make decisions on their care plan both before and during treatment.
  • If allowed by law and hospital policy, they also have the right to refuse a suggested course of therapy or treatment and to be informed of any possible medical repercussions of their choice.
  • If the patient refuses, they have the right to move to another hospital or get alternative suitable treatment and services from the hospital. Any policy that might influence a patient's decision inside the hospital should be disclosed to them.
  • With the expectation that the hospital will respect the intent of the advance directive to the extent allowed by law and hospital policy, the patient has the right to have an advance directive (such as a living will, health care proxy, or durable power of attorney for health care) regarding treatment or designating a surrogate decision-maker.
  • The patient is entitled to see the medical records that are related to him or her and to request an explanation or interpretation of the data if needed except when restricted by law.
  • Patients have the right to predict that a hospital would respond to their request for adequate and medically recommended treatment and services reasonably, within the limits of the institution's capacity and standards.
  • The hospital's response to the case's urgency must include assessment, treatment, and/or referral. Patients may be moved to another institution upon their request or when it is both medically and legally suitable.
  • The patient has to be approved for transfer by the facility to which they are going to be moved.
  • The patient must get comprehensive information and explanations on the necessity, advantages, dangers, and alternatives associated with this type of transfer.
  • Patients have the right to know whether the hospital, educational institutions, other healthcare providers, or payers have any business links that might affect how they are treated or cared for.
  • Before giving their agreement, patients are entitled to a clear explanation of any planned research studies or human experimentation that may have an impact on their care and treatment or that need their direct involvement.
  • A patient has the right to get the best treatment possible from the hospital if they choose not to engage in research or experiments.
  • When hospital treatment is no longer necessary, the patient has the right to adequate continuity of care and the right to be informed by doctors and other caregivers of feasible choices for patient care.
  • The patient is entitled to information about hospital rules and procedures duties, treatment, and patient care.

Benefits of the Right to Information Act 2005 for Patients

In India, the RTI offers several advantages to patients. They are as follows:

  • The RTI Act allows patients to request information regarding government healthcare programs, infrastructure, services, and facilities. This can assist them in selecting the best course of action for their healthcare needs.
  • The RTI Act encourages openness in the way public healthcare organizations operate. Under the Act, patients can inquire about the availability of healthcare facilities, personnel numbers, equipment, hygienic standards, and the caliber of care given by government clinics and hospitals.
  • Through the RTI Act, patients can get information about healthcare professionals' errors or malpractices and hold them responsible. Addressing problems like carelessness, dishonesty, or insufficient service provision helps to enhance healthcare quality and patient safety.
  • Patients may keep an eye on the way government healthcare plans and initiatives are being implemented thanks to the RTI Act. They may search for data on drug distribution, resource use, funding distribution, and healthcare service delivery to ensure that public resources are used effectively for the benefit of patients.

Fundamental Rights of Patients

The National Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued the Patient Rights Charter. It lists several rights to which all Indian patients are entitled. The reason for its implementation was to address the growing number of complaints regarding unsatisfactory medical treatment and medical misconduct. It describes the legitimate rights outlined in the Indian Constitution. The list is as follows:

Right to Informed Consent

A hospital must follow the proper policy procedures before deciding to perform an invasive examination, surgery, or chemotherapy on a patient. Before giving the protocol permission form to the patient or the responsible caregiver, the primary attending physician must thoroughly and simply explain to them the risks, outcomes, and method of the investigation or operation.

Right to Access Medical Records

The right of access to case files, indoor patient data, and investigative reports is granted to patients or their legal guardians. They must have access to investigation reports within 72 hours following release or 24 hours following admission. When a patient passes away, the hospital is obligated to give the patient's family members or caregivers original copies of the investigative reports along with a discharge summary.

Right to Confidentiality

Now, this is a well-known right, particularly if you watch TV programs about physicians or hospitals. The medical community's code of ethics requires physicians to keep patient information, including diagnosis and treatment plan details, strictly secret, only to the patient and their caregivers.

Unless there is a special situation when sharing this information is "in the interest of protecting others" or "due to public health considerations." Patients even have the right to ask for another female to be present if they are female and the doctor or other healthcare practitioner is male. All the same, the hospital must protect patients' dignity regardless of their gender.

Right to Refusal of Treatment

The patient's right to autonomy and self-determination is protected by law. In all circumstances other than emergencies, the patient has the right to refuse medical care; yet, the doctor may proceed without the patient's permission. The authorization obtained must be valid under law.

Right to Transparency

Every patient and his or her caregiver has a right to see all of the services and facilities that the hospital will provide listed in a booklet and on a visible display board. All hospitals and clinics need to post the important rates in both the local language and English on an open board. When completing the payment, the patient and his caregiver are permitted to obtain a comprehensive bill.

Every hospital must ensure that the cost of implants, necessary medications listed on the World Health Organization's (WHO) and Government of India's (GoI) National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), and gadgets is not greater than what is shown on the package.

According to Indian Pharmocepia and the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), every patient has the right to access medications within the periodically prescribed ranges set by the federal and state governments.

Right to Safety and Quality Care

As per the latest requirements set by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals (NABH), every hospital has to furnish its patients with clean drinking water, a healthy atmosphere free of infections, safe and secure surroundings, and quality treatment and care.

Right to Choose Alternative Treatment

Hospitals must respect the patient's decision and advise both patients and guardians of all available treatment alternatives. After weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each choice, patients are entitled to select their course of treatment. The administration cannot be held accountable for a patient's condition or treatment results if they choose to leave the facility.

Right to be Informed and Educated

Patients have the right to information in their own language regarding how to seek redress for grievances in charitable hospitals, official health insurance schemes that are relevant to them, rights and responsibilities, and major facts about their condition and healthy living practices.

Each patient should get this instruction from the hospital administration and treating physician per normal protocol, in a language that the patient can comprehend, understandably and straightforwardly.

Right to Second Opinion

Every patient, as well as their caregiver, possesses the right to a second opinion. To satisfy this entitlement, the hospital or the patient's current doctor must provide the patient with all relevant test results at no additional expense.

The hospital and doctors shouldn't cut corners on the standard of care they provide because the patient sought a second opinion. Discriminatory actions will be considered violations of human rights.

Right to Non-Discrimination

HIV/AIDS, cancer, other diseases, gender, caste, community, area, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, language, or geographic origin are among the reasons why no patient in the hospital may be the target of prejudice. The hospital management must make sure that this kind of bias doesn't happen. They should frequently remind their doctors and other medical staff of this.

 

The Ethical Responsibility of Health Professionals to Respect Patients' Rights

Ethics ensure that medical personnel handle patients with decency and respect and that their choices are lawful and logical. They are so important to the delivery of healthcare. Additionally, it helps people gain confidence and faith in the healthcare system.

These fundamental ethical principles are as follows:

Beneficence

Beneficence means improving the health and well-being of patients through treatments like pain relief and injury prevention. Professionals must consider the pros and cons of each treatment to make the right choices. It's a basic part of being ethical in healthcare. 

Nonmaleficence

The opposite of beneficence is nonmaleficence, which states that medical professionals should avoid harming patients due to carelessness. They must consider the impact of their decisions to protect patients and colleagues from harm.

Autonomy

This principle refers to the recognition that patients possess the right to determine their own course of treatment. Healthcare providers can inform patients through patient autonomy but they cannot make choices on their behalf. Autonomy gives the patient an advantage in decision-making, even in cases when a professional feels that a particular course of action is in their best interests.

Justice

Justice is a complex idea that refers to treating every patient equally. Equitable care rather than equal treatment is what the justice principle entails. The concept of healthcare equality states that no patient should be denied care, have their access to care restricted, or get care that is of lesser quality because of their financial status, race, gender identity or expression, or any other attribute.