Right 1 - Active Participation in Health Care

The Rights of the Health Service Consumer

The health service consumer has the right to take an active role in his/her own health care. This role includes making decisions about his/her own health care and being responsible for those decisions.

The health service consumer has the right to choose a health service provider subject to several conditions including the treatment required and whether the consumer is a public or private patient

The right to be provided with information enables the consumer to make informed decisions about his/her own health care. This information might include:

  • diagnosis, the possible nature of the illness or disease
  • test results and their implications
  • the approach to proposed treatment or further investigation as well as what that entails, the expected benefits, any likely side effects that may occur, and any recognised risks associated with that investigation and/or treatment
  • other options for investigation and/or treatment
  • the likely consequences of any treatment option available
  • the likely consequences of not having any particular treatment or procedure
  • an estimate of the costs of any particular treatment or procedure or other health service fees; and
  • advice regarding additional services, facilities and support groups.

This information should be presented in a way to best ensure the consumer’s understanding. The information should be simple and straightforward. If necessary diagrams, models or other visual aids should be used.

Those with physical or intellectual limitations such as visual, auditory or verbal difficulties and those who have other difficulties with language or communication have the right to be offered alternative means of information dissemination. These alternatives may include, among others, interpreters and/or translation services, large print or audio tapes. In theses cases and where a health service consumer has limited capacity, information can be provided to a guardian or person authorised by the consumer.

The right to feel comfortable and at ease and be encouraged to take an active role in his/her own health care in being consulted about options and by participating in decisions.

The right to take notes, ask questions and expect honest, comprehensive and direct answers in order to clarify information provided by health service providers.

The right to take sufficient time to absorb and consider information, seek advice and additional information from other sources, and discuss issues with family, friends and supporters. It may not always be possible to fully exercise this right particularly in emergency situations where there is often little time to consult and consider.

The right to not only be informed by the provider about his/her condition and options, but to offer suggestions and feedback and discuss these with the provider.

The right to choose any treatment option available and have the provider respect that decision, even if they prefer a different option. It is important to note that the provider is not required to provide any treatment with which he/she does not agree and has the right to withdraw from the provision of treatment.

The right to grant, withhold or withdraw consent for treatment or performance of a procedure at any time.

The Rights of the Health Service Provider

The provider has the right to inquire about all aspects of the health of the consumer so that he/she is able to provide the highest level of quality health care possible. The information about which the provider might inquire includes:

  • condition, symptoms and health history
  • outside factors that may impact on health care provision such as work, sport, family, home life and life style choices
  • changes to circumstances
  • expectations of the provide
  • outcomes for health and well-being and
  • the level of involvement the consumer wants in making decisions about his/her own health care.

The provider has the right to have this information presented openly, with honesty and in a straightforward manner.

The right to be told if the consumer does not understand the information provided or if he/she would like more information.

The right to be informed if the consumer is consulting, or receiving treatment from, another health care provider.

The right to be informed if the consumer is unable or unwilling to proceed with any care or treatment.

The right to express any concerns if he/she does not agree with a decision made by the consumer about his/her health care, and have those concerns acknowledged.

The right to withdraw from the provision of care if the consumer elects to proceed with an option for health care about which the provider expresses concerns.

The right to be given notice if the consumer is unable to attend an appointment.

Where to next?

Right 2 -  Individualised service that is free from discrimination

Updated: 24th May 2021