Editorial: Health facilities must respect Patients Charter
The Chronicle, in its Friday June 12, 2020 edition, carried a story calling health facilities to provide for and respect the rights and responsibilities of patients, clients, families, health workers and other health care providers during healthcare delivery, as captured under the Patients Charter (PC).
The Patients Charter protects the rights of patients in the Ghana Health Service, as well as protects the properties of the health facilities.
The Chronicle would like to stress that these rights and responsibilities are to be exercised by accredited and recognised representatives on behalf of minors and patients who are unable to make informed decisions by themselves.
Unfortunately, most health facilities in the country have, over the years, abused the rights of patients without any sanctions.
The Chronicle is least enthused about the reported cases of medical malpractices in the Ghana Health Service, but it appears that even though the Patients Charter exists to protect patients, most are still suffering at the hands of their physicians.
It is against this backdrop that we, at The Chronicle, welcome the move by the Advocacy for Medical Malpractice Victims (AMMV) to champion the rights and responsibilities of patients.
The Chronicle believes that patients’ safety and access to justice for medical malpractice must be given critical consideration if we are to enhance our healthcare delivery system.
We would appeal to the healthcare facilities to be sensitive to patient’s socio-cultural and religious backgrounds, age, gender and other differences, as well as the needs of patients with disabilities in the delivery of their services.
Again, we would like to remind the healthcare facilities that under the Patients Charter, the patient is entitled to full information on his or her condition and management, and the possible risks involved, except in emergency situations, when the patient is unable to make a decision and the need for treatment is urgent.
The patient is also entitled to know of alternative treatment(s) and other health care providers within the service if these may contribute to improved outcomes.
It is common practice for patients to visit health facilities and walk out without knowing the identity of the professionals who attended to them when under the Patients Charter the patient has the right to know the identity of all his or her caregivers, and other persons who may handle him or her, including students, trainees and ancillary workers.
We also like to remind the healthcare facilities and health practitioners that the patient has the right to consent or decline to participate in a proposed research study involving him or her after a full explanation has been given, and that the patient may withdraw at any stage of the research project.
The Chronicle would, at this point, emphasise that in as much as patients are to enjoy certain rights, they also have some level of responsibilities in ensuring that they receive the best healthcare service.
Patients should understand that they are responsible for their own health, and should, therefore, co-operate fully with healthcare providers.
If health facilities are to provide effective services, patients are to provide full and accurate medical history for their diagnosis, treatment, counseling and rehabilitation purposes.
Among others, patients are also responsible for requesting additional information and or clarification regarding their health or treatment, which may not have been well understood, as well as complying with prescribed treatments, reporting adverse effects, and adhering to follow up requests.
We believe that by respecting the rights and responsibilities of patients, we are going to have a better health delivery system to ensure a healthy nation.
And to begin, the health facilities must boldly display the rights and responsibilities of the patients at vantage points to enable them get the necessary information for their protection.