1. Rights to medical service
Patients have rights to medical services provided with due care and in compliance with the requirements of the current state of medical knowledge. Medical professionals should provide such services in compliance with the principles of professional conduct and ethical considerations. In medical emergency situations patients have the right to obtain immediate medical attention. In the case of delivery, the woman in labour has the right to obtain immediate medical attention related to her condition.
Patients have the right to demand that the physician providing medical services consult another doctor or convene a consultation meeting with other specialists. A note on such a demand should be included in the medical documentation. The physician can refuse if they find the demand unfounded. If this is the case, they will be obliged to make a note about the refusal in the documentation. The above rules are also applicable to nurses and midwives.
2. Right to information
Each patient has the right to obtain clear information concerning their health status from the physician. The physician should provide the patient with information on their diagnosis, proposed and possible diagnostic and therapeutic methods as well as predictable consequences of the particular activities or omissions, also on the treatment outcome and prognosis. If the patient does not want to be informed about all or some of the facts concerning their health status, they have the right to demand that the physician not provide such information. The patient has the right to indicate a person or persons to whom the physician will provide all information about their health status and treatment.
3. Right to give consent to provision of health care services
After obtaining all information from the physician concerning the health status and proposed treatment, the patient has the right to grant consent to provision of specific health care services or to refuse such consent. With respect to a surgical procedure or application of diagnostic or therapeutic method that involves an increased risk, the consent must be given in writing. In any other situation, the consent or refusal to give consent can be conveyed orally by the patient. An examination or other health care service can only be made or provided without the patient’s consent if the patient is in a medical emergency.
4. Right to confidentiality of information
Medical professionals are obliged to keep confidential all information concerning the patient and their health status obtained in connection with the provision of their professional services. The patient may, however, grant consent to disclosure of such information. Medical professionals also remain bound by professional secrecy after the patient’s death. A physician or other health care professional may only disclose information related to the patient without their consent if:
- there is a need to provide necessary information related to the provision of health care services to other medical professionals involved in providing such services;
- non-disclosure of information may pose a threat to the patient’s or other persons’ health of life;
- it is required by law;
- such information is obtained for purposes related to proceedings before the provincial arbitration commission for medical matters.
5. Right access to medical documentation
Each patient has the right to have access to their medical documentation, i.e. all documents concerning their health status and health care services provided to them. The documentation may be made available:
- for inspection at the seat of the provider of the health care services; this is also applicable to relevant databases;
- by producing payable extracts, duplicates or copies;
- by providing the original against acknowledgment of receipt and with the reservation that the document must be returned. Providers of medical services are under obligation to make documents available also to a person authorised by the patient. The provider is entitled to charge a fee for granting access to medical documentation.
The rate of the fee for providing access to medical documentation is variable; it is established based on the average salary in the previous quarter as announced by the President of the Central Statistical Office in the Official Journal of the Republic of Poland ‘Monitor Polski’ pursuant to art. 20(2) of the Act of 17th December 1998 on Pensions from the Social Insurance Fund (Journal of Laws of 2016, item 887 as amended) beginning with the first day of the month in which the announcement was made.
6. Right to respect, privacy and dignity
Health care services should be provided with respect for patients’ privacy and dignity. The right to be treated with respect for privacy and dignity also includes the right to die in peace and dignity. Terminally ill patients have the right to receive treatment that ensures relief of pain and suffering. Patients have the right to be accompanied by a loved one, e.g. a spouse or cohabitant, a relative or any other person indicated by the patient. Parents are entitled to be present when health care services are provided to their children. The medical staff may only refuse to admit a family member or other loved one in the event of a risk of epidemic or due to the parent’s health safety. Such a refusal must be recorded in the medical documentation.
7. Right to respect for private and family life
During hospitalisation the patients have the right to contact other persons, either personally, by phone or through correspondence. Patients are also entitled to additional nursing care, i.e. care which does not consist in provision of health service, which includes nursing care of patients during pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. This means e.g. that a patient can be accompanied during childbirth or that parents can stay together with their child during their hospitalisation. If taking advantage of this right involves costs that must be borne by the hospital, then the hospital may charge a compensation fee. The amount of such a fee is determined by the head of hospital taking account the actual expenditure incurred.
8. Patients’ right to pastoral care
During hospitalisation patients are entitled to have pastoral care. In the event of deterioration of a patient’s health or immediate danger to their life, the hospital is under obligation to enable the patient to contact appropriate religious minister.
9. Right to report adverse effects of medicinal products
Patients can report each adverse and nonintentional effect of a medicinal product to:
- a medical professional (e.g. a physician, nurse or pharmacist);
- the President of the Office for Registration of Medicinal Products, Medical Devices and Biocidal Products;
- the entity responsible for placing the medicinal product on the market. All information concerning the forms of reporting adverse effects of medicinal products is available online on: www.dzialanianiepozadane.urpl.gov.pl
10. Right to raise objection to a physician’s opinion or decision
Some opinions or decisions made by a physician may have an impact on patients’ rights and obligations under the applicable laws. Examples of such opinions or decisions include e.g. certificate on lack of contraindications to taking advantage of a particular type of health care service at a spa or certificate on occurrence of contraindications to the mandatory vaccinations. If a patient does not agree with the content of such a certificate and the appeal procedure with regard do such certificates is not regulated by other laws, the patients may file objection to the Medical Commission at the Bureau of the Commissioner for Patients’ Rights. The objection should be filed within 30 days of the date of issuance of the opinion or certificate by the physician assessing the patient’s health status. All practical information as well as examples of such opinions or certificates that can be objected to can be found on the website of the Commissioner for Patients’ Rights (Patient Ombudsman) www.bpp.gov.pl under ‘Patient – you have a right to appeal against a doctor’s opinion’.
11. Right to hand in your valuables for safekeeping
The hospital is obliged to provide patients with the possibility of handing in their valuable for safekeeping free of charge.
Whenever you think that your rights are not properly respected, contact the Commissioner for Patients’ Rights through the free helpline 800 190 590.
Charter of Patients’ Rights – download here.