Respecting Patient's Rights


The Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights 1996 (Code of Rights) establishes a number of patients' rights that all staff must respect.  The needs and rights of patients in respect to personal information will be protected.


This policy applies to all staff engaged in any activity carried out at this practice including those not directly employed by the practice.  eg: Laboratory personnel, contractors etc.

Patients' Rights:

The right to be treated fairly and with respect and dignity

Patients must be treated with respect. This includes respecting patients' privacy, and treating patients in a way that takes into account their needs and values. It also includes taking into account the patient's cultural, religious and other beliefs. If the staff are unclear about what this means they should discuss the matter with the practice manager.

Staff must not discriminate against patients, or harass patients, or coerce patients into doing things that they dont want to do. if you are unsure whether your actions might amount to discrimination, you must discuss the matter with the manager before you act.

Patients must always be treated in a way that respects their dignity and independence

The right to services of an apropriate standard

Patients must be treated with care and skill and in a manner that meets their needs. Health professionals must make sure that the treatment provided complies with the current standards of care (including those set by the Medical Council and Nursing Council). Staff are also required to cooperate with colleagues and other health providers to ensure that patients recieve good quality care.

The right to effective communication

Staff must communicate openly and honestly with patients and in a way that enables them to understand what they are being told. In some cases this may require the practice to arrange an interpreter. If this appears necessary, staff should first discuss the matter with the manager.

The right to be fully informed

Patients must be given all the information that reasonable patients would expect to recieve to enable them to make an informed decision, including (but not limited to):

- an explaination of their condition and the treatment options available to them including information about the expected risks, side effects, benefits, and costs of each option;

- advice on the estimated time within which they will be treated;

- details of any proposed participation in teaching or research; and

- the results of tests and procedures

It is the health professional who is to provide services to the patient who must obtain the patient's consent. The practice has a form  for obtaining consent. This form should be tailored to the particular case. Details of specific and significant risks discussed must be recorded on the form.

Patients have the right to ask questions and to recieve honest and accurate answers to their questions, including questions about:

- the indentity and qualifications about the person who will be treating them;

- how to obtain a second opinion; and

- the results of research

Patients also have the right to recieve a written summary of any information that has been provided to them if such a request is made.

The right to make an informed choice and give informed consent

The general rule is that a patient can only be treated if the aptient has made an informed choice and has given his or her informed consent to the particular treatment. The general rule is subject to limited exceptions, the most common being where the patient is not competent (discussed below). Where there is any doubt, specific advice should be sought, in the first instance from the manager.

Patients are presumed to be competent to make an informed choice and give informed consent, unless there are reasons for believing that the patient is not competent.

When a patient has diminished competence, the patient still had the right to make informed choices and give consent to the extent which the level of competence allows.

When a patient is not competent to make an informed choice or give consent, and there is no-one available to consent on the patients behalf, staff can treat the patient if the treatment is in the patient's best interests, staff have taken steps to ascertain the patient's views, and either:

(i) staff believe the patient would have consented to the treatment if they were competent given the views they have expressed; or

(ii) staff have not been able to ascertain the patient's views, but have taken into account the views of other suitable persons who are interested in the patient's welfare.

Patients have a right to give advance directives that address how the patient wishes to be treated in the event that the patient becomes incompetent. Such directives are likely to be binding on health practitioners, although it is recommended that specific advice is sought before doing so.

The patients consent must be obtained in writing prior to providing the treatment if:

- the patient is participating in research;

- the procedure is experimental;

- there is a significant risk that the patient will be adversely affected by the treatment

Patients have the right to refuse treatment and to withdraw their consent to treatment. if this occurs the patient will not be treated. Where there is any doubt about the patients competence to refuse treatment staff should discuss the situation with the manager.

Patients have a right to say who they would prefer to treat them. The practice must meet that preference where it is possible to do so.

The practice must not store, preserve, or use any body part or bodily substances that have been removed from a patient during a procedure without the patients consent.

The right to support

Patients have the right to have one or more support persons present during consultations, except if this is unsafe or might interfere with anothers patient's rights. If there is any doubt about whether the patient wants a support person to remain during treatment, the health professional should ask the patient. In some cases it might be appropriate to have a private discussion with the patient to discuss the presence of the person. If the responsible health professional continues to be unsure the matter should be discussed with the manager.


Patients have the right to complain about their treatment. If a complaint is recieved staff must follow the practices complaints procedure. This requires staff to refer the complaint to the practice's complaints officer within 24hrs.