LivingCan health professionals hide information from us?

Can health professionals hide information from us?

Our Health System seeks the greatest guarantees to offer protection of the rights of patients.

According to Article 3 of the Patient’s Rights Charter, health information is described as ” that which, in a clear, sufficient and appropriate manner to the patient’s ability to understand, reports on their state of health, the studies and treatments that may be it is necessary to carry out the foreseeable evolution, risks, complications or sequelae thereof” . 

Starting in 2002, the European Union approved in Rome the Charter of Patient Rights with 14 fundamental rights that would help ensure that health services are equal and equitable for all European citizens.

The main purpose is that people know their rights and make use of them , so that health establishments improve their services and provide quality care.

Obtaining health information promotes autonomy and favors patient decision-making, establishing a more participatory healthcare and more personalized care for people.

As in the Patient Rights Charter, the right to information about our health status is also promoted, other key points are established such as the right to privacy, confidentiality and respect for time. This is an important factor to take into account since patients have the right not to be informed if they so request.

Despite the fact that the regulation is clear, sometimes we find ourselves in compromising situations in which we feel that we have not been informed correctly or that information that may be relevant to us in the health field is being hidden. Is it possible to prevent this from happening?

For this, we have to prepare ourselves mentally and even support ourselves with a paper and pen. We must write down any doubts we have and/or questions that try to resolve our insecurities, fears or uncertainties in relation to our health condition.

Obtaining health information is a right that we have recognized and that we must remind health professionals whenever we consider it appropriate. 

Three exceptions for which information can be hidden from a patient

  • The right not to be informed

    People have samples of freedom when we are able to make our own decisions. From the field of bioethics, it is called the principle of autonomy, which is the individual decision-making capacity that should not be affected by external influences.

    Any health decision must be respected at all times. When the patient voluntarily expresses his resignation or express refusal to receive any type of information about his own health, this must be respected because he has verbalized it and is fully empowered to do so.

  • the bearable truth

    Receiving a diagnosis is often related to bad news and sometimes we are not prepared to listen to all the health information that we should know.

    On the other hand, bad news negatively affects patients’ expectations about their future. It is for this reason that, exceptionally, doctors may withhold information when there is reason to believe that such information may represent a threat to the person.

    This type of situation can lead to health information being verbalized and explained over time to ensure that the patient understands and assimilates their new health condition.

  • Assumption of incapacity of the patient

    When a person has an inability or impossibility to understand the information due to their physical or mental state, it is also established as one of the reasons why information related to the person’s health is not offered. On this occasion, third parties come into play, such as the figure of the legal representative or, failing that, the spouse who lives with the patient.

Patients have rights described and supported by the 14 points supported by the European Parliament, which from 2007, managed to establish the Day of Patients’ Rights on April 18.

Health professionals must accept and respect the decisions of patients as well as cultural differences, promoting a dialogue that provides access to all health information in a truthful, adequate, understandable and sufficient way so that it can allow you to participate. actively in making decisions that concern your health. In this way, we ensure that people maintain their principle of autonomy in accordance with their values and beliefs.

Bibliographic references:

European Union, 2010. Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union https://www.boe.es/doue/2010/083/Z00389-00403.pdf

European Charter of Patients Rights, 2002. European Charter of Patients ‘ Rights. http://cecu.es/campanas/sanidad/European_Charter_of_Patients__Rights_in_Spanish%5B1%5D.pdf

Journal of Critical Medicine and Intensive Therapy, 2002. Charter of General Rights of Patients. Ministry of Health https://www.medigraphic.com/pdfs/medcri/ti-2002/ti025d.pdf
iStock. Shot of a compassionate doctor comforting a young woman in a hospital waiting room http://195.154.178.81/DATA/i_collage/pu/shoots/804719.jpg

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