The state is obliged by the Constitution to provide quality health care services to the people free of cost. Unfortunately, the Pakistani government has neglected the health sector.
An international standard facility, that is accessible by all, still remains an elusive dream. What is ironic is that even those who empty their pockets at the counters of private medical facilities are not granted their due rights. This week, The Express Tribune takes a look at patients’ rights, which are meant to be respected by all health care institutions.
According to the Constitution of Pakistan, every citizen has the right to live.
This means the state is required to provide quality health care facilities to the people free of charge.
After the 18th Amendment, the responsibility to regulate the rights of patients and duties of medical practitioners lies with the provincial governments.
Currently, the only set of rules governing the practice of health care professionals is the ‘code of ethics’ formulated by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council - the national body that regulates those associated with the medical profession.
One must be certain that the health consultant they are visiting is duly licensed by the PMDC to practice. Health practitioners are required by law to display their licence.
Right to information
Physicians are required to explain to their patients the benefits, risks and costs of appropriate treatments, alternatives and optimal course of action. The patients can seek a second or further opinion about their ailment.
There are instances where patients, particularly women and children, complain of being sexually harassed by their health consultants.
The code of ethics gives patients the right to complaint against such health practitioners to the PMDC.
The basic foundation of the patient-doctor relationship is trust.
The code of ethics makes it binding on health practitioners to not breach the privacy of their clients.
The practitioner may lose their professional license if they breach patient confidentiality.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2014.
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