Patients’ Rights as a Policy Issue in South Eastern Europe

Type Working Paper
Title Patients’ Rights as a Policy Issue in South Eastern Europe
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2006
Due to a lack of knowledge and expertise in medical law and a paternalistic concept of
medicine, the rights of patients, consumers, family members and ordinary people are at
risk. Inequalities in healthcare have increased significantly in the last decade in the
countries of Central and Eastern Europe, not only between but within the countries of
the region. This paper argues that it is necessary to examine existing legislation in
these countries, where the process of economic and political transition has had an
affect on the healthcare system and treatment of patients. The enforcement of patients’
rights legislation and related healthcare acts produce no results unless the appropriate
system for consistent implementation is in place. Public awareness-raising campaigns
are vital as is the restructuring of the existing healthcare acts and the introduction of
new mechanisms for implementing patients’ rights. These rights include not only the
right to healthcare but the right to refuse treatment, the right to complain and the right to
participate in decision making. Additional problems occur within the Roma populations
of Central and Eastern Europe, where lack of education and poor housing conditions
are reflected in the poor health of the Roma.

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