What are your rights as a patient?

The bond between a doctor and a patient is an exceptional one. It’s a visceral connection, much like the dependence of a child on her/his mother. Though the patient, the patient’s family, and the doctor work toward the betterment of the patient, they may not always understand each other because they always assume a different stance and have different perspectives. The patient or the family may not always understand or conquer a doctor’s concerns and a doctor may fail to see the relevance of some things the patient may demand. Nevertheless, the primary and concordant goal of all three parties is to get the patient better, a sentiment which all participants in the equation should respect.

As a patient, the patient has certain rights which should be respected in the patient-doctor relationship. The patient should receive a courteous, timely and respectful response to his/her medical needs. The patients deserve information regarding their disease, evaluation and treatment options and are encouraged to ask questions in order to gain clarity of their circumstances. The patients have a right to informed consent, regarding the details, benefits and side effects of a particular treatment or surgery offered. The patient also has a right to seek alternate options also question why a particular treatment is being recommended by the doctor as a professional judgement. The patient also has a right to refuse a particular treatment and seek a second opinion. The patient has a right to confidentiality and privacy. All patients have a right to be treated fairly, irrespective of their age, sex, geographical or social origins, and deserve care as per the hospital standards. All patients deserve to be educated regarding the status of their disease and their role in best managing their condition.

The patient is the more powerful and important person in the relationship and with great power comes great responsibility. Unless the patient provides complete information to the doctor and ensures trust in the system, the doctor may not be able to deliver treatment to his/her best possible extent. The patient should cooperate when asked questions about his/her disease, allow examination, and allow the doctor to formulate an objective treatment plan. Just like patients’ time and mental well-being is important, the patient should extend the same courtesy to the treating doctor so that the bond grows stronger. The patient and their family should cooperate and follow the rules and regulations of the hospital and the instructions of the doctor. Just like the doctors have the responsibility of offering the best possible medical care, the patients should bear the responsibility for the treatment decisions they make. Most importantly, both the doctor and the patient should treat each other with respect, and dignity and express humanity toward each other.