Today, the OLIGOFASTX team joins in the celebration of the European Patients’ Rights Day, a relatively recent initiative promoted by the Active Citizenship Network. In 2002, the European organization promulgated the Charter of Patients’ Rights, which sets out the fourteen rights that patients throughout Europe should have in all healthcare facilities.
Known as Patients’ Rights aim to guarantee a “high level of protection of human health” (Article 35 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights), in order to ensure the high quality of the services provided by the different National Health Systems. They must be protected throughout the European Union.
Regarding the fourteen patients’ rights, we recall some preliminary statements:
- The definition of rights implies that both citizens and all those involved in healthcare assume their own responsibilities. Rights are correlated with obligations and responsibilities.
- The Charter applies to all individuals, recognizing the fact that differences such as age, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, literacy level, or any variable that may influence individual healthcare needs.
- The Charter does not attempt to take a position on ethical issues.
- The Charter defines rights valid in contemporary European Health Systems. Therefore, they should be reviewed and modified taking into account their evolution and the development of scientific and technological knowledge.
- The fourteen rights are an embodiment of fundamental rights and, as such, should be recognized and respected regardless of financial, economic or political constraints, taking into account the criteria of adequacy of medical care.
- Respect for these rights implies compliance with technical and organizational requirements, as well as professional and behavioral standards. Therefore, they require a comprehensive reform of the way National Health Systems operate.
- Each article of the Charter refers to a right, defining and illustrating it, without pretending to foresee all possible situations.
Fourteen fundamental rights
Although this bill of rights is present in hospitals, health centers, research activity, pharmaceutical industry… the reality is that there are still many things in which progress is being made.
These are the rights:
- Right to Preventive Measures. Every individual has the right to an appropriate service to prevent illness.
- Right of access. Every individual has the right to access the health services he or she requires. Health services must guarantee equivalent access for all, without discrimination due to financial resources, place of residence, type of illness or time of access to services.
- Right to information. Every individual has the right of access to all types of information about his or her health status, health services and how to use them, as well as to everything that scientific research and technological innovation can provide.
- Right to consent. Every individual has the right of access to all information that may enable him/her to actively participate in decisions concerning his/her health; this information is a prerequisite for any procedure and treatment, including participation in scientific research.
- Right to free choice. Every individual has the right to freely choose among different treatment procedures and providers based on adequate information.
- Right to privacy and confidentiality. Every individual has the right to confidentiality of personal information, including information about his or her health status and potential diagnostic or therapeutic procedures, as well as the protection of his or her privacy during diagnostic tests, specialist visits and medical or surgical treatment in general.
- Right to respect for the patient’s time. Every individual has the right to receive the necessary treatment within a predetermined and prompt period of time. This right applies to each phase of the treatment.
- Right to compliance with quality standards. Every individual has the right to access to high quality services based on the specification of and compliance with precise standards.
- Right to security. Every individual has the right to be free from harm caused by poorly functioning health services, medical errors and professional negligence, and the right of access to health services and treatments that meet high safety standards.
- Right to innovation. Every individual has the right to access to innovative procedures, including diagnostic procedures, according to international standards and regardless of economic or financial considerations.
- The right to avoid unnecessary pain and suffering. Every individual has the right to avoid as much suffering and pain as possible, at every stage of his or her illness. Los servicios sanitarios deben comprometerse a tomar todas las medidas útiles para ello, como ofrecer tratamientos paliativos y simplificar el acceso de los pacientes a los mismos.
- Right to personalized treatment. Every individual has the right to diagnostic or therapeutic programs adapted as far as possible to his or her personal needs.
- Right to complain. Every individual has the right to complain if he or she has suffered harm and the right to receive a response or additional information.
- Right to compensation. Every individual has the right to receive adequate compensation within a reasonably short period of time when he or she has suffered physical, moral or psychological harm caused by treatment provided in a health service.
We hope that all these outreach and awareness activities will allow us to move forward and advance the rights of patients, to improve their health and quality of life.
- EUROPEAN CHARTER OF PATIENTS’ RIGHTS
- Ley 41/2002, de 14 de noviembre, básica reguladora de la autonomía del paciente y de derechos y obligaciones en materia de información y documentación clínica. https://www.boe.es/buscar/act.php?id=BOE-A-2002-22188
- Barcia D. The rights of the sick. Psychology Bulletin. 1988;19;3-31.
- Ley 14/1986, de 25 de abril, General de Sanidad, artículos 10 y 11.
- Ley 12/2001, de 21 de diciembre, de Ordenación Sanitaria de la Comunidad de Madrid, artículos 26 a 30 ambos inclusive.
- Herranz G. Comments to the code of ethics and medical deontology. Eunsa. Pamplona. 1992.