Your right to be informed
You have a right to be informed about your condition, its nature and consequences, your medical examination and/or your proposed treatment. Your physician or healthcare-provider is obliged to inform you about the nature of any treatment and/or medical examinations they are proposing to undertake. They must also inform you about any alternative treatment options, the potential risks, consequences and side effects, as well as your prospects following treatment. You may ask to be given this information in writing.
Despite the fact that physicians, nurses and other healthcare-providers do their best to inform you as clearly as possible, you may not fully understand or remember all the information provided. If this happens, you can always ask for clarification or further information.
There is one situation in which a healthcare-provider is not obliged to inform the patient. They may withhold certain information if they believe that disclosing it could be seriously detrimental to the patient. This occurs only in very exceptional situations. It may sometimes be better to provide a bit of information at a time.
Your right not to know
You also have a right ‘not to know’. If you make clear that you do not wish to receive certain information (or do not wish to be given any information at all), your healthcare-provider will in principle respect your wish. However, if withholding certain information might prove seriously detrimental either to you or to others, the healthcare-provider may nevertheless decide to give you the information in question (despite your wishes to the contrary).
You must provide all the information that is needed in order for your treatment to be successful. You are expected to provide your healthcare-provider with as much information as possible.
Giving your consent to an examination and/or a treatment
In principle, an examination or treatment starts only after you have given your consent. You are always entitled to refuse an examination or a treatment. Your consent is explicitly requested if the treatment is going to be intrusive. In all other cases, your healthcare-provider will assume that he or she has your implied consent. This may be evident from the fact that you are cooperating with your treatment, for example. You may always withdraw your consent once you have given it. If you are unable to give your consent, someone else will need to do it for you.
Go back to rights and responsibilities.