Healthcare Patient Rights, Responsibilities, and Advice

The medical act involves the patient and various health professionals. Each of them has their rights, duties, and responsibilities. Read on and find out what they are.
Healthcare Patient Rights, Responsibilities, and Advice
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Last update: 11 October, 2022

During the provision of healthcare services, it’s not only the doctors, nurses, or other professionals involved who are governed by a series of rules. There are also patient rights, duties, and responsibilities to be taken into account.

It’s understood that, at certain times, the mood and attitude of the sick person may be conditioned by his or her illness. However, as long as they’re in full use of their physical and mental faculties, patients should cooperate as much as possible with medical professionals to restore their health.

Patient rights

Both international organizations and the governments of certain nations have determined a series of rights that a person should have when visiting a healthcare facility. In other cases, the institutions also provide rules in this regard.

Patients have a right to be attended

Among the basic rights of the patient when he/she goes to a health center or to a medical consultation, the first one is to be attended. This is especially the case in emergency situations.

In public health institutions, this is a universal right. However, in private institutions, there are often some conditions for providing services, since they imply a cost.

However, regardless of the nature of the institution, there can be no discrimination in attending to a patient. It’s also unfeasible for there to be bias based on aspects such as race or skin color, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation.

Patients have a right to receive a quality service

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the patient has the right to the highest attainable standard of health. This means that the service provided by the institutions should ensure that maximum efforts are made and that the care provided should not be undermined.

A quality service would imply the following:

  • The greatest possible effort on the part of the personnel.
  • The use of all available resources, whether equipment or medications.
  • Attention and care in environments that guarantee optimal sanitary conditions.
An emergency room treatment
Emergencies and urgent care involve particular conditions that make patients’ rights more evident.

Patients have a right to be treated well

The patient has the right to be treated well, both by medical staff and by nurses, assistants, and others involved. This includes punctuality, courtesy, empathy, respect, and cordiality.

Patients have a right to be heard

People are very different: some are talkative, while others are introverted. In the doctor’s office, some may need to talk a lot and may ask for more details.

In part, this also makes them feel a little better that they’re being taken into account and involved with their treatment. It even encourages doctor-patient interaction. Even if blood, urine, or imaging tests are to be performed, the patient must be listened to.

It’s also the patient’s right and responsibility to express any disagreements they may have about the care being received, if any. Their concerns should be addressed by the staff of the institution.

Patients have a right to receive all the information

The patient should know everything about his or her condition. The physician, in turn, should clarify any doubts or questions they may have. In this sense, it’s advisable that doctors explain this information in simple and accessible language while avoiding excessive technicalities.

Likewise, the patient should know about the various treatment and care options to be followed. Information should not be withheld, even in cases of extreme severity.

Patients have the right to decide on their treatment

With the various options before him, the patient should be involved in the decision regarding his or her treatment, depending on cost, duration, recovery, and prognosis. He/she also has the right to renounce the treatment, even if this is a complicated subject to discuss from a medical and legal point of view.

The patient or his/her relatives (in case he/she is not conscious or is not legally able) must then sign a consent form, accepting that the risks are known. No coercion may be used in this process.

Patients have a right to privacy

Finally, a patient also has the right to personal privacy, specifically with regard to the confidentiality of his or her clinical information. This information should not be disclosed by any means.

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The duties and responsibilities of the patient

When attending a medical consultation or entering a hospital institution to receive treatment, we’re probably thinking more about what the health professionals are going to do. However, in addition to rights, there are patient responsibilities, as well.

Patients are responsible for providing and requesting all the necessary information

On the one hand, the patient has the duty to inform about the symptoms he/she has experienced, as well as everything he/she has done that may be useful to the physician. It’s very important that this information is provided completely and truthfully without misrepresenting anything or omitting details.

This also implies giving additional explanations about the patient’s health history, previous treatments, medications he/she is taking or has taken, as well as any allergies.

On the other hand, he/she should state whether he/she has understood what the diagnosis is, what the disease or treatment consists of, and what the risks are, among other things. If you have any doubts, you should ask for them to be clarified.

The patient must be respectful

It’s both a right and a responsibility of the patient who comes to a health center that the medical act takes place within the framework of mutual respect. The patient should treat the staff of the health institution in a cordial and respectful manner, whether they’re doctors, nurses, assistants, or assistants, or any others who are in consultation or hospitalized.

Patients must comply with the regulations

The institutional regulations, likewise, refer to both the rights and responsibilities of patients. In this regard, everyone must abide by the rules regarding noise, no smoking, or the number of visitors allowed. This includes complying with financial obligations.

Patients are responsible for following their treatment

The patient must listen to, value, and respect the doctor’s instructions by following their treatment and informing him/her if he/she is unable to comply with it or if it causes any reaction. Just as it is a right, it’s also the patient’s responsibility to follow all recommendations aimed at restoring health:

Healthcare patient rights and medicine
Complying with the doctor’s prescriptions is a duty. It’s assumed that the professional has indicated the most appropriate treatment.

Patients are responsible for attending their check-ups

It’s necessary to attend check-ups punctually and regularly and prepare for medical appointments, complying with what is required. This could be going fasting or bringing previous exams, for example.

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A good relationship and good service are patient rights and responsibilities

Overall, it could be said that, to a large extent, the restoration of health depends as much on the skills and knowledge of health personnel as on the good doctor-patient relationship. In this context, communication between both sides of this dynamic is fundamental.

However, it’s even more important to understand that, just as in a couple’s relationship, communicating well requires an open and appropriate state of mind. The healthcare professional should not forget that he/she is dealing with a human being. Doctors must also recognize that they’re dealing not only with their patient’s pain, but also with their fears, insecurities, and doubts. In short, a good attitude on the part of the patient and his or her family members, as well as that of the physician and other members of the healthcare institution’s staff, can make a big difference.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.