Your health, your right!

Vuk'uzenzele - - Youhtehalftohcus - Adele Schor­mann

The Pa­tients’ Rights Char­ter en­sures that all South Africans have the right to qual­ity health­care.

It was put in place by the South African Depart­ment of Health to up­hold, pro­tect and pro­mote pa­tients’ rights when re­ceiv­ing med­i­cal care and it is im­por­tant to know what your rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties are.

Ac­cord­ing to the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Repub­lic of South Africa (Act No 108 of 1996), pa­tients have the fol­low­ing rights:

Ur­gent med­i­cal care

If you are in need of ur­gent med­i­cal care you can be ad­mit­ted to your near­est hos­pi­tal and treated un­til you are sta­ble, re­gard­less of whether or not you have med­i­cal aid. A hos­pi­tal may not turn a pa­tient away un­til they have been

sta­bilised.

Ac­cess to a healthy and safe en­vi­ron­ment

The health­care fa­cil­ity/en­vi­ron­ment should of­fer ad­e­quate and clean wa­ter sup­ply, san­i­ta­tion and waste dis­posal etc. This is meant to pro­mote and en­sure a pa­tient’s phys­i­cal and men­tal well­be­ing.

Par­tic­i­pa­tion in de­ci­sion mak­ing

Your opin­ion mat­ters. Med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als must in­volve pa­tients in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing pro­cesses that will im­pact their health.

Ac­cess to health­care par­tic­u­lars

Hav­ing the right to ac­cess to health­care en­tails var­i­ous things:

• Pa­tients should un­der­stand the rec­om­mended treat­ment and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion so that they can weigh up their op­tions and the con­se­quences.

Pro­vi­sion should be made for spe­cial needs pa­tients, such as dis­abled peo­ple,

• preg­nant women, the el­derly and peo­ple liv­ing with HIV/Aids.

Pa­tients have the right to coun­selling, with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion, co­er­cion or vi­o­lence. This in­cludes coun­selling for can­cer, HIV/Aids and other ill­nesses.

In the case of ter­mi­nal ill­ness or in­cur­able dis­eases, pa­tients should be given the op­tion of af­ford­able and ef­fec­tive pal­lia­tive care. Health­care prac­ti­tion­ers and providers should be cour­te­ous, pa­tient, tol­er­ant and show em­pa­thy. Pa­tients must be given ac­cess to med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion, such as the avail­abil­ity of health­care ser­vices, in a lan­guage of their choice.

Pri­vacy and con­fi­den­tial­ity

A pa­tient’s in­for­ma­tion may not be dis­closed to a third party with­out their con­sent or with­out a court or­der.

Get a sec­ond opin­ion

Ev­ery pa­tient has the right to seek a sec­ond opin­ion be­fore giv­ing con­sent or re­fus­ing treat­ment.

Con­ti­nu­ity of care

A health­care pro­fes­sional may not aban­don a pa­tient.

Re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the pa­tient

A pa­tient must:

• Re­spect the rights of other pa­tients and health­care providers.

Com­ply with pre­scribed treat­ment or re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

Look af­ter them­selves so that they can be healthy and pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment.

Pa­tients may not abuse the health­care sys­tem and must pro­vide ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion about their health sta­tus.

Ev­ery pa­tient has the right to com­plain if they feel a prac­tice or pro­fes­sional is not obey­ing the law and a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion can be launched. Re­mem­ber that with rights, come re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. En­sure that you main­tain a healthy life­style.

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