By Reem Abdulrahman Jassim al-Muftah
I am not sure if you all have noticed or not but I have been away for some weeks now because of personal medical matters but now I am back! I was hospitaliaed for more than a week due to some serious complications in my pregnancy and was then rushed downstairs for an emergency C-section to deliver my premature son (thank God) to only be hospitalised again for recovery. I learned a great deal from this experience and I have decided that I must share my lessons learnt with all of you; especially since I do not want anyone to go through the same experience I went without having some sort of idea of what my rights are as a patient. When it comes to patient rights, each hospital or medical facility will have a formalised set of rights or laws that describe a patient’s rights in their specific organisation. Most of the rights are common but each organisation has some customised differences. Not only do medical institutions have these set of rules in place, there are also general, informal rights a patient has that are actually basic human rights/laws that all of us should be aware of as they should be practiced no matter what.
When you visit a medical facility always ask and look at their rights, there are usually posters and other forms of signage everywhere but if you cannot find any reference of it around definitely ask a member of staff to show you where you can find it. Each facility uses a different term so it could be called a ‘Bill of Rights’ or something similar. To use a local example, if you look at Hamad Hospital’s Patient Bill of Rights, you will see the following rights which happen to be my favorite of them all:
1. Access healthcare services regardless of race, religion, nationality, beliefs, values, language, age or disability.
2. Receive care and services without unnecessary delay, and if there is a sign of delay in the provision of care, treatment and/or services, the patient, family, caregiver, or legal guardian shall be notified.
3. Be informed about the treatment and services prior to receiving care.
4. Receive respectful and considerate care at all times, maintaining the patient’s personal dignity.
5. Participate in the development, ‘implementation, and revision of their plan of care, treatment and services.
6. Make the decision to withhold or withdraw treatment.
7. Accept or refuse treatments or procedures.
8. Be given an appropriate and effective grievance support mechanism.
9. Receive education that is appropriate to their age, cognitive level and care needs.
10. Receive timely pain assessment and management.
11. Know if there are students and trainees involved in the care process.
Be sure to memorise these rights because you never know when someone will try to deny you these simple and basic laws as a patient. Now that you have an overall understanding of what patient rights are, now we can go on to the next type, human rights…each patient has the right to be treated with respect and to receive proper information in regards to their care and treatment, to be taken care of well and humanely and to feel as comfortable as possible. Disrespect and unprofessionalism should and cannot be tolerated, so please speak up and ask to see a staff member in charge of customer service and/or patient experience to demand that your rights be upheld. I also want you to follow my below guidelines:
If you do not understand something, ask the medical practitioner to repeat what they said or have someone brought in to translate
1. Make sure you are involved in your treatment plan and care.
2. Challenge your treatment or the medical decisions made.
3. If treated disrespectfully, make it known and demand respect.
4. Challenge the policies, procedures and/or protocol if you feel uncomfortable.
5. Challenge the nurses if you feel they are not aware of your situation or not caring for you well.
6. Research and make sure of the medicines you are given and prescribed.
7. Ask all the questions you want.
8. Speak your mind and request what you want and need.
9. Refuse treatment when you feel uncomfortable or are not sure.
* The author is a wellness advocate and influencer @keys2balance.
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