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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Rights of a Patient - Right to be informed of harm occurring to them because of the medical system

I am writing this post to make patients all over the world aware that there is a significant risk of harm occurring to themselves or to their near and dear ones who are receiving medical care in a hospital. This is because human error is always possible - even in the best hands. Apart from human errors, there can be machine-led errors, systemic errors and other forms of misfortune that can befall users of medical systems.

As per prevailing ethics, patients or their wards have the right to be informed about any and every form of such errors that cause them any kind of misfortune. This is called the duty of candour or honesty all over the developed world. In the U.K., where I work, this duty of candour has been in place since the past few years. 

Doctors are expected to contact you in person, be empathetic and inform you in detail about what happened, why it happened and what is being done to mitigate the effects of this mistake. They are also expected to report the event on their medical system through what is known as the "Incident Report". They will have to inform their line managers as well. A detailed conversation must include the assurance that the incident will be investigated thoroughly, and responsibility will be fixed. The patient/caretaker must also be told that this investigation would guide the hospital to take steps that would prevent a repetition of the same error in the future.

So, there you have it. You have a right to know if you/the patient you are responsible for has been harmed in any way through a preventable error made by a faulty system.

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Dr. Fuhrman

Dr. Fuhrman