The fourth episode of Satyamev Jayate brought to light several cases of medical malpractice. Most patients in India treat their doctors like Gods and have an unquestioning trust in them. However, in recent times, there have been cases of medical negligence and/or malpractice due to which the patients have suffered physically, mentally, financially and emotionally.
In 1995, the Supreme Court brought the medical profession under the Consumer protection act and medical treatments were labelled ‘services’.
As per the Consumer Guidance Society of India, the patient’s rights as a consumer are the following:
1. Patients have the right to be told about their illness; to have their medical records explained.
2. Patients should be explained about whatever treatment/medicines are prescribed to them. They should be made aware of the risks and side effects, if any. They have the right to ask questions and clarify their doubts about the treatment.
3. Patients have the right to know a doctor’s qualifications.
4. Patients have the right to be handled with consideration and due regard for their modesty when being physically examined by the doctor.
5. Patients have the right to maintain confidentiality regarding their illness and can expect the same from the doctors.
6. Patients have the right to a second opinion if they are doubtful about the medicines or treatment suggested.
7. Patients have the right to know what a suggested operation/surgery is for and the possible risks involved. If he/she is unconscious or unable to make the decision due to other reasons, informed consent needs to be taken from their nearest relatives.
8. Patients have the right to get their medical records/case papers on request from the doctor/hospital.
9. If the patient needs to be moved to another hospital, he/she has the right to know the reason for it and also has the right to make their own choice in consultation with the doctor.
10. Patients have the right to get details of the bills they have paid for.
We’ve covered the rights. But what’s equally important is patients understand their responsibilities as well:
1. The patient should undergo the treatment as prescribed by the doctor faithfully and follow his/her instructions diligently.
2. If the doctor has prescribed certain preventive measures in case of infections, the patient should follow the same.
3. The patients need to be punctual for the treatments and follow-ups.
4. Patients should maintain all the medical records and prescriptions.
5. If the patient wants to take a second opinion, consult with your doctor about the same.
6. Patients should pay for their treatment as applicable to the doctors and hospitals promptly.