Wojciech Giermaziak, Patrycja Kurowska, Elżbieta Buczek
Patient’s rights during the epidemic
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has disrupted the daily order of many countries around the world. The new situation is an occasion to reflect on the value of life and health. While adjusting to functioning in the era of the epidemic, health decisions began to emerge, which had been considered unimaginable before. Information about the lack of access to basic protective and emergency equipment, cancelled procedures, overcrowded hospitals, and making it impossible to say goodbye to relatives dying in the hospital dominated the media. While the new reality may be confusing and overwhelming to many people, it is a good time to reflect on human and patient rights.
Patients’ rights are defined in the Constitution of the Republic of Poland and in the Act of 6 November 2008 on Patients’ Rights and Patients’ Rights Ombudsman (Ustawa o praw pacjentów i Rzecznik Praw Pacjenta, UoPP). Among the rights listed in the AoPP, we can distinguish: the right to health services, the right to information, the right to medical documentation, the right to consent to health services, the right to information secrecy, the right to report adverse effects of medicinal products, the right to object to a doctor’s opinion or ruling, the right to respect for intimacy and dignity, the right to respect private and family life. In the event of violation of rights, the patient may seek compensation before a civil court.
Medical facilities, supported limiting patient’s rights during pandemic with article 5 of UoPP, which points, that “the head of the healthcare provider or the medical doctor delegated by him may limit the exercise of patient rights in the event of an epidemic risk or for reasons of patient safety”. It seems, that epidemic limited the right to health services the most. At the beginning of the pandemic outbreak, there were closures of health facilities, making registration and access to doctors impossible. The problem was partly solved by providing services to patients in the form of phone call consultation.
The ongoing epidemic has highlighted the condition of the Polish health care system and has contributed to the exposure of problems that previously seemed to have been overlooked. The legislator should pay special attention to this clear message and try to work out the best solutions for the future.
Keywords: patient rights, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, patient advocacy, Patient Ombudsman, pharmacist’s role.
© Farm Pol, 2021, 77 (3): 134–142