Are you aware of your rights when using the various health services in Australia?

In order to provide clarity and understanding the rights of the patient, healthcare consumer and their families, a national  Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights was developed in 2008.

The Charter applies to all health settings anywhere in Australia, including public hospitals, private hospitals, general practice and other community environments. It allows patients, consumers, families, carers and service providers to have a common understanding of the rights of people receiving health care. — ACSQHC

Rights

For an explanation and discussion of how these right might actually apply, you can download this pdf. From that document, here is a breakdown summary of each domain.

Access:

Access to health care is a fundamental right for everyone. In Australia this right is supported by medicare which, together with state and territory governments, provides access to free or subsidised treatment by doctors and access to free public hospital services. not all services, however, are available in all areas, and an individual’s right to health care may be limited by his or her geographic location and the available health services. Access to private healthcare services can require payment.

Safety:

Patients, consumers and healthcare providers are entitled to a safe, secure and supportive healthcare environment. Patients and consumers have the right to expect that safe care and treatment will be provided in every encounter with the health system. All participants can help to ensure safe and high quality care.

Respect:

All participants in the healthcare system are entitled to be treated with respect and not be discriminated against in any way. Patients and consumers have a right to receive care in a manner that is respectful of their culture, beliefs, values and characteristics like age and gender. Staff and health service managers are entitled to be treated politely and with consideration of their workload.

Communication:

To obtain the best possible health outcomes the exchange of information between patients, consumers and staff must be full and open. this can be facilitated by clear, timely and effective two-way communication. In particular, staff and health service organisations are encouraged to offer and arrange access to services such as interpreters and patient support groups that might enhance the patient’s or consumer’s involvement with the healthcare system. Patients and consumers have a right to be fully informed about all aspects of their health care including what options are available, where the services would be provided and the costs of the service.

Participation:

To obtain good health outcomes, it is important for patients and consumers to participate in decisions and choices about their care and health needs. this provides the basis for informed consent and informed decision making. In some situations, such as emergencies, the opportunity to participate in decision making may be limited. As well as participating in decision making about their own care, patients and consumers also have the right to participate in health service planning.

Privacy:

Everyone participating in the healthcare system needs to respect the privacy of other people in the health system. Patients and consumers have a right to expect that their personal health and other information will be collected, used, disclosed and stored in accordance with
the relevant laws about privacy, and that this information will remain confidential unless the law allows disclosure or the individuals direct otherwise.

Comment:

All participants in the healthcare system benefit from processes that encourage feedback about the services received by patients and consumers and that encourage any concerns to be resolved in an open, fair and timely manner. Patients and consumers have the right to seek to have their concerns resolved by independent arbitrators such as healthcare complaints commissions.

A consultation process to produce a draft second edition of this charter is about to commence.

Download the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights

  1. Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights (PDF 380KB)
  2. The Charter in 17 other languages and an audio version.
  3. A guide for healthcare providers on the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights.

References:

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

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