(Opinion): Do Patients Have Rights and Responsibilities in the Care Cycle? -Ibraheem Olasunkanmi Qoseem

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Like the way we do find ourselves in random but ratiocinatory discussions that permeate around politics, technology, social vices and even education; I found myself engrossed in one intellectual engagement that was quite related to my discipline; I took time to take the audience around the discourse and it was a very enlightening one.

This is how it all started: as a citizen, there are certain rights and responsibilities that we have and as patients, don’t we have rights? Why is it that health services appear to be ran in hazily reclusive? These are few of the questions on the table for the community debate that I felt should not end at the point of discourse, but should be made available for public consumption. Everyone needs to be enlightened regardless of social status.

Do you know the reason why a sick person is called patient? He is so called because he is suffering and is patiently waiting to be relieved of it. The word is from a Latin word ‘patiens’ which means “I am suffering”. A hospital on the other hand is a building that is guest-friendly where welcoming services are being rendered to patients in term of diagnosis, treatment and management. Undoubtedly, patients are the essential component of the hospital; in simple expression, no patients, no hospital.

There may be many rights for patient but the following are on the front burner. It is essential for caregivers to know this to avoid taking undue advantage of the vulnerability of patients or their relatives. First, just like the priority placed by Nigeria constitution on human life, every patient has right to life and no one should be deprived of this.

Secondly, it is the right of every patient to accept or refuse medical treatment most especially those whose beliefs do not support some type of treatments; for example some religious sects do not believe in blood transfusion. Thirdly, as patient you have every right to be treated with dignity, respect and prompt attention regardless of your status.

Fourthly, patient also have every right to participate in all decision making in medical care, which means for any treatment exercise to take place on a patient, he or she need to be consented and if the patient is not stable enough to affirm the decision, patient’s relatives are the next to be consented. Any treatment that goes against this is simply abridgement of human’s right.

Fifthly, every patient has right to confidentiality; an information disclosure to third party is an abridgement of patient’s right and as such shall be treated as serious crime.

Lastly, with the information provided, it is obvious that healthcare system is not meant to be run in secrecy. As such, both the patient and healthcare providers have a very strong role to play in patient management. However, if any of the aforementioned rights is egregiously violated the severe disciplinary actions that come with it are license revocation and dismissal according to professionally prescribed ethos.

Although patient attimes can be very tempting and healthcare provider can be unprofessional in his/her dealings, we are human we are not free from being err, but if we would lose many things let’s always remember the connection between us-humanity: let’s keep being our brothers’ helper.

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