When you come into hospital it is important that you know what you are entitled to.
Extract from Ombudsman's Report re Patients' Rights
The guidance below will help you understand some important issues.
You and all patients have the right to respect from others. Our hospitals treat sick and dangerously ill persons. In order to enhance the comfort of patients we ask that you keep chat, phone conversations and television volume as quiet as possible especially in public wards as this can be a nuisance to others.
Please try and have no more then 2 visitors at a bedside at any one time.
Children are welcome little visitors but we ask that they must not be allowed to run around wards, rooms or corridors as there could be vital equipment in these areas. Children should not be a disturbance to other patients. Thank you for your co-operation.
Health records contain all the information about someone’s appointments and treatment at hospital. These records are used by doctors, nurses or other healthcare professionals e.g. physiotherapist, to help plan the care and treatment of patients. Health records are kept in both paper and electronic (on computer) form.
Health records may contain:
- personal information e.g. name, address, next of kin, ethnic origin
- contact a patient has had with HSE services e.g. clinic visits, operations
- results of investigations e.g. X-rays, blood tests
- letters relating to a patient’s care e.g. letters to GPs or Social Services
Information held in health records is only shared with staff in other organisations if they are directly involved in someone’s care and treatment e.g. a GP, Social Services, community nurses and therapy staff.
In providing and planning for health services, the HSE records maintains a wealth of both personal and health information. Various laws are in place to allow you as a member of the public to access both your personal information and general information held by the HSE. Information can be made available in a range of ways, and under certain conditions.
Information can be accessed in the following ways:
Health records are kept confidential at all times and are only shared with staff so that they can plan care effectively. All HSE staff are bound by strict professional and contractual codes of confidentiality. Wherever possible, information is anonymised so that individual patients can not be identified. Information about the care and treatment of patients is used by the hospitals in the following ways:
- Complaints: If someone makes a complaint, the hospitals will use someone’s health records to help investigate it. Information about a complaint is always kept in a separate file and does not form part of someone’s health record. Anyone wishing to raise an issue or make a complaint should speak to a member of staff or use a complaints form.
- Clinical Audit: The hospitals use health records to monitor all healthcare professionals to ensure that they are constantly providing high standards of care/treatment.
- Teaching and Training: Health records can be used to teach and train new and existing staff employed by the hospitals. Medical students final university examinations and student nurse training.
- Research: The hospitals are a joint centre of research and patients may be approached by a researcher asking if they would like to participate in a research project. Patients have the right to refuse this request. All research projects are approved by a Research Ethics Committee. Both hospital and medical school staff review patient records as part of their research and to identify patients who could participate in research trials.
- Planning: Information is used by the hospitals to monitor performance e.g. number of patients attending an outpatient clinic. Anonymised information is also provided to the ERSI to predict patterns/trends in patient attendance to assist the hospitals to plan future treatment.
- Payment of Services: The hospitals provide information to insurance organisations e.g. VHI to receive payment for treatment provided.
- Administration of Services: The administration of care may be undertaken by third party companies on behalf of the hospitals e.g. National Purchase Treatment Fund. These companies are bound by very strict confidential agreements.
- HSE Regulatory Bodies: The hospitals have a duty to protect the public funds it administers, and to this end may use the information provided by patients for the prevention and detection of fraud. It may also share this information with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds for these purposes.
- H.I.P.E / E.R.S.I: Clinical and administrative information is extracted from in patients' charts for the purposes of gathering data on illness, diseases and procedures that GUH treat and undertake. This information carries no name or address of any patient and is completely confidential. The gathered information is forward to the E.R.S.I. so they can form a national profile of the health status of the population treated in Irish hospitals.
- Solicitors: Due to the fact that there may at times be cases in dispute with the hospitals or that a person treated by the hospitals may have a case pending for a court hearing as a result of being admitted following an accident, solicitors have reason to request files on our patients. No information is released to any solicitor without the consent of the person the information pertains to.
1. Access to Hospital Services
You have the right in a medical emergency to be admitted immediately to hospital. In cases other than in an emergency, you will be placed on a waiting list if you cannot be admitted to hospital immediately. If you are on a waiting list and are concerned about your condition, you should consult your family doctor who can then request that your condition be reviewed by your hospital consultant.
Where a recommended medical procedure is not available at the hospital, you will have the right to ask your hospital consultant to transfer you elsewhere where the procedure is available.
You have the right, should your admission be cancelled by the hospital, to receive adequate and timely notice of such cancellation. However, in exceptional cases arising from emergency pressures or staff illnesses, your operation may have to be cancelled at very short notice. In these circumstances, the hospital will make every effort to contact you in advance.
You have the right, in the event of cancellation, to be given a new appointment for an early date and to be treated on a priority basis.
2. Out-Patient Services
You have the right, when your family doctor refers you to hospital for an out-patient appointment, to:
· receive confirmation within a reasonable time of the date of your first appointment;
· be given an individual appointment time;
· be seen by a consultant or senior doctor on your first appointment.
If you feel your condition has disimproved, you should consult your family doctor who can, if necessary, take up the matter with the hospital.
You have the right, should your appointment at an out-patient department be cancelled by the hospital, to receive adequate and timely notice of such cancellation and to be given a new appointment on a priority basis.
You have the right to be treated in a courteous manner at all times by every member of the hospital staff.
4. Visiting Arrangements
You have the right to receive visits from your relatives and friends, including children. The hospital must ensure that visiting arrangements are flexible, consistent with the nature of your illness and the needs of other patients.
5. Religious Beliefs
You have the right to be treated with respect for your religious and philosophical beliefs.
You have the right to have your privacy respected, especially when the nature of your clinical condition is being discussed with you or your relatives by hospital staff.
7. Information Concerning Your Treatment
You have the right to be informed of the name of the consultant under whose care you are being placed, and, if you are to be referred to another consultant, you have the right to be informed of the reasons for such referral.
You have the right to be informed of the nature of your illness or condition in language which you can fully understand, and to be informed concerning:
· the results of your tests and x-rays
· the purpose, method, likely duration and expected benefit of the proposed treatment;
· alternative forms of treatment
· possible pain or discomfort, risks and side-effects of the proposed treatment
8. Consent to Treatment
Generally, treatment should only be given to a patient with his or her informed consent or, in the case of a child, the consent of a parent or guardian. You may request the presence of a person or persons of your choosing during the procedure for granting consent. The consent form you are asked to sign should clearly state the nature of the procedures to be undertaken.
Only in cases where a patient lacks the capacity to give or withhold consent, and where a qualified medical doctor determines that treatment is urgently necessary in order to prevent immediate or imminent harm, may treatment be given without informed consent.
You have the right to total confidentiality in respect of your medical records.
You have the right to request the hospital to make details of our relevant medical records available to you. Hospitals will normally meet your wishes in this regard, except where it would be considered that this would cause serious harm to your physical or mental health. In such circumstances, the information may be communicated through a health professional, normally your family doctor.
10. Teaching and Research
You have the right to refuse to participate in the teaching of medical students by your consultant. Your permission must be sought before a consultant can involve you in the teaching of students. However, your co-operation would be important in view of the need to ensure that future doctors obtain the best possible training.
You have the right to refuse to take part in any clinical trials or research concerning the use of new drugs or medical devices. Clinical trials and experimental treatment should never be carried out without your informed consent being obtained by the hospital or medical personnel.
You have the right on your discharge from hospital to have yourself and your family doctor informed of the nature of your condition, the treatment you received while in hospital, the medication required by you, and the arrangements for any further attendance at the hospital.
You have the right to complain about any aspect of hospital service, to have the complaint investigated, and to be informed of the outcome as soon as possible. Your hospital has detailed complaint procedures in place and should publicise these prominently throughout the hospital, together with the name and telephone number of the hospital's designated Complaints Officer.
You have the right, where your complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction, to have the matter referred to the hospital's Complaints Committee.
The hospital's complaints procedures are without prejudice to your statutory rights to complain to the Ombudsman, the Medical Council, or An Bord Altranais (The Nursing Board).
putting the patient first