The right to good medical care

In 2013, the Government of Rwanda adopted Law N°49/2012 of 22/01/2013 Establishing Medical Professional Liability Insurance to protect people whenever they seek medical assistance.

Article 3 of the Law Establishing Medical Professional Liability Insurance says, “The health professional shall discharge his/her duties with due respect for the human person’s life, privacy and dignity.” The health professional in this case refers to a doctor, dentist, pharmacist, nurse, midwife or any other person having a required degree engaged in the practice of a paramedical profession.

To ensure that everyone has access to medical procedures, the Law Establishing Medical Professional Liability Insurance prohibits all forms of discrimination.

The Law further protects health service users from poor functioning of health services and errors. Additionally, health service users are entitled to medical procedures which meet an acceptable standard and they ought to be given reliable results if they take tests, get a prosthesis, or if they are given compulsory vaccinations. This is according to article 5 of the Law Establishing Medical Professional Liability Insurance.

Under article 6, the abovementioned law grants the right to choose a health professional unless it’s an emergency situation.

Article 7 grants the right to accurate, reliable and appropriate information so that a health service user fully knows his/her health status and the proposed medical procedures. He/she ought to also be informed on possible risks and medical procedure costs. The exception to this rule are emergencies, mental incapacitation, difficulty to find the health service user, and the user’s decision not to know as long as he/she is not likely to put others at risk of transmission.

A health service user has the right to give consent according to article 9 of the Law Establishing Medical Professional Liability Insurance. According to article 11, a child’s consent is given by a parent, a guardian or a parent’s representative. For example, if they want to remove or replace a body part, they need to get permission first.

If it is an emergency, then the health professional has to contact another experienced colleague before making a decision.

Article 12 of the Law Establishing Medical Professional Liability Insurance grants patients the right to be given a copy of their medical records and they have the right to consult that record.

Article 13 of the Law Establishing Medical Professional Liability Insurance grants the right to sue for compensation.  However, the claim only holds if it can be established that the medical procedure which the patient underwent is what caused the health risk.

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