Charter of Patients’ Rights for adoption by NHRC

Patients’ rights are Human rights!

Preamble

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) emphasizes the fundamental dignity and equality of all human beings. Based on this concept, the notion of Patient Rights has been developed across the globe in the last few decades.

There is a growing consensus at international level that all patients must enjoy certain basic rights. In other words, the patient is entitled to certain amount of protection to be ensured by physicians,
healthcare providers and the State, which have been codified in various societies and countries in the form of Charters of Patient’s Rights. In India, there are various legal provisions related to Patient’s Rights which are scattered across different legal documents e.g. The Constitution of India, Article 21, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations 2002; The Consumer Protection Act 1986; Drugs and Cosmetic Act 1940, Clinical Establishment Act 2010 and rules and standards framed therein; various judgments given by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and decisions of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

This Charter of Patient’s Rights adopted by the National Human Rights Commission draws upon all relevant provisions, inspired by international charters and guided by national level provisions, with the objective of consolidating these into a single document, thereby making them publicly known in a coherent manner. There is an expectation that this document will act as a guidance document for the Union Government and State Governments to formulate concrete mechanisms so that Patient’s Rights are given adequate protection and operational mechanisms are set up to make these rights functional and enforceable by law. This is especially important and an urgent need at the present juncture because India does not have a dedicated regulator like other countries and the existing regulations in the interest of patients, governing the healthcare delivery system is on the anvil, some States have adopted the national Clinical Establishments Act 2010, certain other States have enacted their own State level legislations like the Nursing Homes Act to regulate hospitals, while a few other States are in the process of adopting / developing such regulation.

The Charter of Patient’s Rights has been drafted with the hope that it shall be incorporated by policy makers in all existing and emerging regulatory legislations concerning the health care sector. This charter would also enable various kinds of health care providers to actively engage with this framework of patients’ rights to ensure their observance, while also benefiting from the formal codification of patients responsibilities.

Another objective of this Charter is to generate widespread public awareness and educate citizens regarding what they should expect from their governments and health care providers—about the kind of treatment they deserve as patients and human beings, in health care settings. NHRC firmly believes that informed and aware citizens can play a vital role in elevating the standard of health care, when they have guidance provided by codified rights, as well as awareness of their responsibilities.

NHRC believes that this Charter of Patients’ Rights will be an enabling document to ensure the protection and promotion of Human rights of those who are among some of the most vulnerable sections of society – ordinary patients and citizens seeking health care across India.

 

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