Issue of May 14, 2017
Mt. Province

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Rights of patients underscored in new city med care ordinance
by Aileen P. Refuerzo / PIO

The city council passed the Baguio Patients’ Rights Ordinance which spells out the privileges of persons availing themselves of medical care services in the city.

The measure, authored by Councilor Edgar Avila “aims to equalize the contractual relationship between a patient and his health care provider by stating the rights of patients.”

The Ordinance grants the patients the “Right to medical care and treatment,” which specifies that every person has a right to health and medical care corresponding to his state of health, without any discrimination and within the limits of the resources available for health and medical care at the relevant time.

It also grants a patient the “Right to informed consent,” which states that a patient has a right to a clear explanation, in layperson's term, of all proposed procedures, including the identity of the person who will perform the said procedure, possibilities of any risk of mortality or serious side effects, problems related to recuperation, and probability of success, provided that in cases when the patient is unconscious and/or incapable of giving consent and there is no one who can give consent in his behalf, then the health care professional can perform any diagnostic or treatment procedure as good practice of medicine dictates.

The “Right of privacy” must be respected. The patient has a right to be left alone when this will not prejudice the provision of necessary medical care. The patient has a right to be free from unwarranted publicity, except in the cases spelled out in the ordinance.

The “Right to information” must be observed. The patient, next of kin, or immediate family has a right to a clear, complete, and accurate evaluation of the nature and extent of his disease, the contemplated medical and surgical procedure and its probable outcome, economic costs, impact on lifestyle and work including side-effects, possible complications, and other pertinent facts regarding his illness.

The “Right of privileged communication,” assures the patient that all information, communication, and records pertaining to his care are kept confidential.

The patient must also have the “Right to choose his physician” or the health care professional to serve him except when he seeks medical treatment in a government hospital, confined in a charity ward, and he has entered into a contract with a health maintenance organization or any other health insurance organization which stipulates that the patient can only be served by a health care professional affiliated with the organization.

The “Right to self-determination” provides that the patient of legal age and sound mind has the right to refuse diagnostic and treatment procedures.

A patient also has the “Right to religious belief,” which allows him to refuse medical treatment which may be contrary to his religious beliefs, subject to limitations, provided that such a right shall not be imposed by parents upon their children who have not reached the age of legal discretion.

The “Right to medical records” entitles the patient to a summary of his medical history and condition and the right to view the contents of his medical record upon consultation with his attending physician.

The “Right to leave” gives a patient to leave a hospital or any other health care institution regardless of his physical condition. 

The “Right to refuse participation in medical research” gives a patient the right to be advised if the health care provider plans to involve him in medical research, including but not limited to human experimentation that may affect his care or treatment that may be performed only with the written informed consent of the patient.

A patient has the “Right to correspondence and to receive visitors,” which means the patient can communicate with relatives and other persons and receive visitors subject to reasonable limits prescribed by the rules and regulations of the health care institution.

The “Right to express grievances” empowers the patient to express complaints and grievances about the care and services received in consonance with a grievance system to be crafted, which shall alls afford all parties concerned the opportunity to settle amicably all grievances.

The “Right to be informed of his rights and obligations as a patient” ensures that every person has the right to be informed of his rights and obligations as a patient.  

The Ordinance’s implementing rules and regulation will be framed by the Baguio City Health Services Office, in consultation with the local chapters of the Philippine Medical Association and the Philippine Hospital Association, concerned private agencies, non-governmental organizations and people's organizations within 180 days from its effectivity.

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