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Patients unaware of their rights

Health & Science

By Emmanuel Were

Efforts to reduce cases of medical negligence require a stronger push to educate patients on their rights when they visit health care centres for treatment.

Patients have the right to seek a second opinion before an operation or surgery, players in the health sector have said.

“It is a two way street. Doctors should go an extra mile to explain to patients,” said Mark Achola, regional manager AAR Health Services. “And we are in the information age. Patients should read up before they go for operations.”

Patients should also have the liberty to choose their preferred doctor instead of being shepherded to a doctor chosen by their health insurance provider, medical practitioners say.

Cheaper services

The health insurance providers are on the spot for pushing business to doctors who offer cheaper services but are not the best qualified. This plays out in the insurer’s favour because they make more profits.

While Mr Achola agrees with the need to educate patients on their rights and give them more options, he is against the idea of opening up the health insurance to have patients visit their preferred medical practitioners.

“If we go with that model, I do not think it will be affordable,” he said.

Though one of the major points of differences in the healthcare sector is on the qualification of doctors, medical practitioners should give a detailed explanation of the dangers posed by a surgical operation or side effects from prescribed drugs.

If a patient agrees to a procedure or any operation, they sign the forms giving the doctor consent. If a patient is too ill then the consent must be obtained from a relative.

However, players in the health care sector who spoke with The Standard said many patients are unaware of their right to full disclosure from doctors on the possible dangers of any procedure done in a hospital.

In a weeklong review, The Standard spoke with patients and relatives who gave varying accounts of their experiences, which led to cases of alleged medical negligence.

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