Patient rights charter is a written document which defines basic rules of conduct so to be followed by medical professionals. It guarantees information, fair treatment and autonomy over medical decisions. But is there a need for these, let’s say, new rights?
Most definitely. Because, in 2017, when KPMG studied transparency in medical systems of 30 countries, they ranked India second last globally. Then, in 2018, it was found in a survey that 92% Indians don’t trust their own healthcare system.
To address all the issues, a patients rights charter is necessary:
- Adequate information on the diagnosis shall be provided.
- Display the rates for facilities given by the hospital.
- Consent should be mandatory before operation.
- Digitization and access to copy of patient records
- Allow the patient to seek second opinion
- No discrimination in treatment
- Family of the deceased shall receive the dead body
- Male doctor can examine female patient only in the presence of a woman
- Doctors must maintain confidentiality
Many developed countries like Scotland, England, USA and Australia have implemented the patient rights charter. In India, National Human Rights Commission of India created a list of as many as 17 rights deemed important for the country.
In 2019, union health ministry urged all the states to implement, what experts call, a diluted version of NHRC’s recommendations. But, the states have not even notified the hospitals about the same, yet. Which was why, in 2020, many cases of negligence and malpractices emerged, especially during the pandemic.
Luckily, there are NGOs like OxFam that have been raising this issue for a long time. That states should implement patient rights charter for the welfare of people. That a patient grievance redressal system should be put into place. We need more organizations like this as more awareness will surely lead to stronger demand for the patient rights charter. So, let’s see how long it takes.