Editor's Focus Physician

Physicians need to wake up. The law is coming to you!!!

Today a patient thought I was rude.

He was not impressed with how I conducted myself in the consultation room.

The encounter started off with the nurses. Right from the consulting room, I could hear heightened tones in his voice.

He sounded imposing and I remember thinking he has a loud voice.

Then he walks into the consulting room. His voice definitely did not match looks – short stature, pot belly and a balding hair line he tried covering with his fanciful hat.

“Good morning sir, Welcome to the clinic today”, i greeted cheerfully.

“How can I help you today, what is your problem sir?”

This simple question was the trigger into a long wave of insults, threats and abuses.

He insisted he has no problems, but had a ‘little problem with the muscles of his arm. After narrating how he first noticed the problem in far away England, and how his podiatrist thinks he should consult his Primary Health Doctor, he requested for an X-ray.

Then it was my turn to speak, and I asked; “But I thought you said you don’t have a problem – you have listed a number of issues, medical issues and concerns. Are these not problems?”

He flared up, obviously vexed at my impetus. He made it clear that he had received medical treatment from doctors around the world, and I was rude to him.

Not in my nature or training to be vocal with a patient, I decided not to engage him.

I did what he wanted – wrote an X-ray order for him, and told him to get the Xray results whenever it was ready.

It angered him the more and he rained curse on me. In between his many words he mentioned reporting to my superiors and pressing charges against me.

The nurses were shocked. Other patients were shocked.

How can he talk about legal action, when all I did was try to be civil and do my work.

I now realize most medical doctors, including myself, have no idea about the rights of a patient and those of a practitioner.

The Bill of Rights of a patient expressly outlines the rights of patients who visit a health care facility.

Here are a few of these rights;

1). Right to relevant information in a language and manner the patient understands, including diagnosis, treatment, other procedures and possible outcomes.

2). Right of timely access to detailed, and accurate medical records and available services.

3). Right to transparent billing and full disclosure of any costs, including recommended treatment plans.

4). Right to privacy, and confidentiality of medical records.

5). Right to clean, safe and secure healthcare environment.

6). Right to be treated with respect, regardless of gender, race, religion, ethnicity, allegation of crime, disability or economic situation.

7). Right to receive urgent, immediate and sufficient interventions and care, in the event of an emergency.

8). Right to reasonable visitation in accordance with prevailing rules and regulations.

9). Right to decline care, subject to prevailing laws and upon full disclosure of the consequences of such a decision.

10). Right to decline or consent to participation in medical research, experimental procedures, clinical trails.

11). Right to quality care in accordance with prevailing standards.

12). Right to complain and express dissatisfaction regarding services received.

It is certain that patients have rights. What about the rights of practitioners? Can a Medical Practitioner say he does not want to see a patient? Can a doctor sue a patient?

What safety nets are available for practitioners who find themselves in a disadvantaged position? Or is it just assumed that practitioners need no protection?

The law is for all and we all deserve to know this.

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