The Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights was developed by the Commission in 2007 and 2008. It specifies the key rights of patients and consumers when seeking or receiving healthcare services, and offers each patient the right “to participate in the development and implementation of the care” and “to make treatment decisions that reflect the patient’s wishes”.
Yet to a a patient entitled to health care, it sometimes appears that procedures and treatments are undertaken often without proper or informed consultation. Patients often feel powerless in the health care system due to lack of knowledge or support.
To some, it often seems that consultations with their doctors or health care professionals lack a personalized approach, with many procedures being carried out simply because of established therapeutic protocol with no regard to the patient’s needs, concerns, age, medical condition, or potential benefit or detriment to the patient’s well-being.
A recent poll in the US revealed that fewer than half of US adults believed that their clinician understood their goals or concerns. A further study revealed that the discussion of potential treatment benefits was fairly common, but discussions about the ‘down-sides’ or dangers of treatments were less commonly discussed; “for cancer screening, the discussion of cons was almost non-existent.”
Such examples reveal a high cause for concern about the lack of proper sharing of information and adherence to patient’s rights among health professionals.
Many young people share similar stories about their experiences within the health care system. Commonly, the absence of proper palliaitive care or discussion when it comes to both the pre and post-treatment of procedures.
It has been noted that there is also a lack of proper provision of care when it comes to post-treatment stress in serious injuries.
Medical practitioners should be trained to properly deal with providing patients with relief and ongoing support, as well as have a more informed and inclusive approach to discussing treatment decisions.
Doctors and patients have a very special relationship which should be mutually beneficial. While patient’s seek help for sickness or pain, they should be able to maintain input and have a choice in the treatment they receive. They should also be treated with dignity and respect, and it is a health care professional’s duty to do this.
In extreme cases, where patients are seriously ill or in chronic pain, the emotional toll of the illness itself can be further burdened by lack of support or knowledge of treatment options or decisions.
Patients have the right to have more control over their health and treatment decisions. Instead of being treated with standard hospital protocol, and be pushed through the hospital system like a commodity on a conveyor belt, patients should be treated with a more humane approach which takes into account their well-being and state of mind.
Unfortunately, many patients are unaware of their own rights when it comes to health care, and can be easily misinformed or unsure about the factors they are entitled to have a say in.
The Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights describes the rights of patients and recognises that people receiving care or providing care all have important roles to play in achieving healthcare rights.
These three principles describe how the Charter applies in the Australian healthcare system:
1. Everyone has the right to be able to access health care and this right is essential for the Charter to be meaningful.
2. The Australian Government commits to International agreements about human rights which recognise everyone’s right to have the highest possible standard of physical and mental health.
3. Australia is a society made up of people with different cultures and ways of life, and the Charter acknowledges and respects these differences.
When it comes to the health care system, do you feel safe in the knowledge that your rights are protected and that you are properly informed when it comes to your treatment decisions and options?
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