Emile (not real name) once went to seek treatment for a terrible headache he had, that had lasted for weeks. At the hospital, the doctor, who was treating him, for some reason decided to give him an injection with no explanation or questions about his health whatsoever. “He didn’t explain why I was getting a shot and if the medicine in it was not risky since I have other medical issues that require first alerting the doctor before getting any treatment,” he said. Emile did not face any complications fortunately but was disappointed in the way the hospital operated. Some patients like Emile are sometimes denied their rights, while others simply don’t know what rights they have. Every patient and their caregiver are allowed to know information regarding them whenever they seek medical help in a hospital, said Dr Afrika Guido Gasana, the chairperson of Rwanda Medical and Dental Council. “They shouldn’t be denied anything that they should know. But again as doctors, we don’t share information of the patient to another person that the patient didn’t list as their trusted person to give information,” he said. In a previous article by The New Times, Zachée Iyakaremye, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, said that one of the ways to tackle malpractice cases in hospitals is to sensitise patients to know they are entitled to quality treatment, and report poor medical service; as well as pursuing medical personnel who are implicated in poor medical service. Dr Peace Mukabalisa, a Medical Director at Dream Medical Centre, said that patients have rights and they should be informed by doctors before any procedures. “When patients come to a hospital seeking for any medical assistance, it’s the hospital’s obligation to provide all information needed to the patient and also to allow a patient to make decisions on what they want. Patients and their carers should know all that is going on to avoid misunderstandings,” she said. Rights of a patient Right to receive treatment when they seek it According to Gasana, every patient seeking medical care has a right to get assistance, especially if the patient’s case is urgent. Doctors shouldn’t restrict the patient from assistance, even when certain required documents are missing, the patient must receive the needed treatment first and all other questions be asked later. Every patient has the right to privacy and confidentiality Confidential information regarding a patient should only be shared to a patient. A doctor is not allowed to disclose it to any other person. Dr Gasana said that only a patient’s family member or any other trusted person by the patient is the one to know about a patient’s information. Mukabalisa complemented this by saying that in case a patient has no family or anyone else with them, and is in a ‘coma state,’ his or her information is only shared with the nurse taking care of them, the doctors in charge and the hospital’s management. Right to know all medical procedures to be done on them It is a patient’s right to be informed of all medical procedures that are going to be done on them, and also their right to choose which medical treatment they can have, said Gasana. He also clarified that if a patient refuses to receive medical treatment or an operation, yet doctors feel that their health needs that treatment, they don’t force patients rather, they counsel them on why they need it or have them sign that they don’t want the procedure. Right to choose any hospital of their choice and to receive a transfer It is the right of a patient to go to another hospital if they feel that the current one is not helping. Right to access their medical report whenever they need it Mukabalisa said that patients are allowed to have a copy of their medical report if they request it, and a doctor should record all information there. “If a patient faces a case at the hospital and their carer feels they need justice, they have the right to report the case to the hospital’s authority. And if they are not satisfied they can take the complaint to the Ministry of Health or the Medical Council,” Gasana added. The doctor remains innocent however until found guilty.