Patient rights

Expectations, rights and responsibilities.

Erasmus MC

Erasmus MC is a university medical center based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, where new knowledge is developed and passed on to current and future healthcare professionals.

The scope of our work is broad, ranging from illness to health, and from individual to public healthcare. The knowledge acquired and new discoveries made benefit the daily care and treatment that we provide to our patients. Erasmus MC has three locations: the central Rotterdam location, the Daniel den Hoed location in Rotterdam-Zuid (the south of Rotterdam), and a branch in Dordrecht (Radiotherapy department).

Medical training programs

At Erasmus MC we train medical students to become physicians. Students in the final phase of their training program serve their internship at the hospital (medical interns). Physicians undertaking a specialist training program are also trained at the hospital (residents).

The medical interns and residents frequently switch between workplaces at the hospital as part of their training. Erasmus MC also offers training programs and internships for nurses. For you as a patient this means that a number of people will usually be present during your appointments and/or physical examinations, including a medical specialist, a resident, an intern, and a nurse. This also means that during your stay more healthcare professionals will attend to you than you may be accustomed to at non-university medical centers.

We appreciate your understanding in this regard.

Hospital treatment

When you undergo treatment at a hospital you are in actual fact entering into an agreement between yourself as a patient and the hospital. This agreement lays down a number of rights and responsibilities for both the healthcare professionals and the patients. This brochure highlights the most important rights and responsibilities.

Right to information

You have a right to information about your condition, its nature and consequences, your medical examination and/or your proposed treatment. Your attending healthcare professional is obliged to inform you or have someone else inform you about the nature of the proposed treatment and/or examinations.

In addition, they must inform you of any alternative treatment options, potential risks, consequences and side effects, and your prospects following treatment. You can also request this information in writing. Despite the fact that physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals will do their best to inform you as clearly as possible, it is possible that you may not fully understand or remember all the information provided. In this case, you can always ask for additional information.

Exception to providing information

There is an exception to the healthcare professional’s obligation to inform the patient. This is also known as ‘therapeutic exception’. This means that the healthcare professional may withhold information from the patient if he or she considers that its disclosure could be seriously detrimental to the patient. This only occurs in very exceptional cases. Sometimes it may be more beneficial to provide information a little bit at a time.

Furthermore, the patient has the ‘right not to know’. If a patient indicates that they do not wish to receive certain information (or no information at all), the healthcare professional will respect this wish in principle.

However, if as a result of withholding information the patient or others could potentially be seriously affected, the physician may still decide to provide the patient with the information (despite the patient’s wishes to the contrary).

Furthermore, you are expected to provide as much information as possible for your treatment to be successful.

Consent to examination and/or treatment

In principle, an examination or treatment will not commence until you have given your consent. You always have the right to refuse examination or treatment.

Consent is explicitly sought for intrusive treatment. In all other cases, healthcare professionals will assume that they have your implied consent. This will be evident, for example, from your behavior. You can withdraw your consent at any time. If you are unable to give your consent, someone else will need to do this for you.

This person will make decisions on your behalf based on what they think you would have wished. You can designate a representative in writing before your hospital stay. If you fail to do so, your healthcare professional will need to ask your partner, or a parent, child, or sibling for consent.

In an emergency situation, you could be at risk if a healthcare professional does not act immediately, which is why he/she may treat you without consent. This is, after all, in your best interest.

Second opinion

You can seek a second opinion for any type of medical treatment. This means that you can obtain the views and advice of a medical expert other than your own healthcare professional. On request, the expert will give his or her opinion on a diagnosis or treatment plan, but will not take over the treatment. We recommend that you let your attending physician know that you wish to seek a second opinion. If you are reluctant to ask your physician who you can ask for a second opinion, you can also consult your GP, a patient association, or your health insurer.

Always carefully check your health insurance policy terms and conditions or contact your health insurer for advice. You cannot presume that an insurance plan will cover a second opinion. You can contact the relevant outpatient clinic to make an appointment or to request information on the procedure. If the second opinion differs from your attending physician’s opinion, it is up to you to decide which treatment plan you wish to pursue.

Minors

Children under the age of 12 will have a legal representative (generally a parent or guardian). The child’s interests are always paramount. This means that the healthcare professional has the right to deny the representative from being present during the child’s treatment. The healthcare professional can also refuse to provide the representative with information or access to the child’s medical records. The information given to children under the age of 12 must always be tailored to their level of understanding. Where possible, the child must give consent.

For a mentally competent child aged between 12 and 16, the information will need to be provided to both the legal representative and the child and their consent must be obtained prior to starting treatment. The child’s wishes take precedence over those of the representative if the child insists on the treatment or if the treatment is deemed necessary to prevent serious harm to the child. Legal regulations stipulate that certain treatments may be given even if the representatives refuse to give consent. This will only be the case if the refusal by the representative could seriously affect the health of the child. The Dutch Patients’ Rights Directive considers children over the age of 16 to be mentally competent (i.e. of age). This means that they can independently give consent for treatment and exercise their rights as a patient.

Giving permission to share electronic medical records

In addition to the exchange of medical data in writing, there is clear shift towards the electronic sharing of records. The use of computers enables us to share your medical records easily and securely with healthcare professionals in other hospitals or healthcare institutions. However, your healthcare professional may only share your medical records electronically if you have given your express consent to do so. Without your consent the hospital is not authorized to share your medical records with third parties. Sharing your records with other practitioners is particularly useful if you are referred to another hospital, if your physician intends to discuss your health situation at a ‘multidisciplinary consultation’, or if you wish to seek a second opinion.

All healthcare professionals providing treatment to you will then have rapid access to the same documents and images used by Erasmus MC. Once your practitioner has clearly explained what you are consenting to, you can either consent or refuse to have your records shared electronically. Your practitioner will make a note of your decision in your electronic patient record. If you wish, you can obtain a list of all the parties who have requested your data. You can change your decision at any time.

Obligation of confidentiality

Physicians, nurses, and other hospital staff need to have access to your medical records to be able to treat you. They are bound not to disclose information they receive about you in a professional capacity and they are required to deal appropriately with the data in medical records and computer files. Legislation and other regulations pertaining to confidentiality are observed in cases where there is contact with government authorities (e.g. the judiciary or police) and insurance companies, and in the event of doubt the interests of the patient always prevail.

Privacy

The patient also has a right to ‘spatial privacy’. In principle, the treatment will not be carried out in the presence of other individuals other than the healthcare professionals directly involved in the treatment, unless the patient has agreed to this. There are exceptions to this rule at university medical centers. The education and training function of a university medical center implies that several physicians or nurses may be present during your treatment.

Only hospital staff directly involved in your treatment will have access to your medical records. Your practitioner will only share relevant data with those inside and outside Erasmus MC involved in your treatment. Your data will be treated confidentially, and your practitioner will not discuss your records in the presence of third parties. The rules governing the use of personal data for scientific research are outlined below.

Accessing medical records

The right of a mentally competent patient who is of age to access a medical record (whether paper or electronic) lies primarily with the healthcare professional in charge of treating the patient concerned and with the patient, insofar as it does not infringe on the privacy of anyone other than the patient. Furthermore, those directly involved in performing the treatment and any healthcare professional substituting for the practitioner are authorized to access the records if necessary for treatment. It is fair to assume that your practitioner will only use the data that has been defined and can be expected to be necessary to perform his/her professional duties or tasks.

Others are not authorized to access your records without your permission, unless this is permitted by law for the purpose of statistical analysis or scientific research. You can request access to your medical records and/or copies of your records in consultation with your practitioner, unless providing this information would infringe the privacy of other individuals. The hospital charges a fee for this service.

If you wish to access or receive a copy of your records, please complete the request form that you can obtain from the department of Medical Information Processing (Tel: +31 (0)10 703 58 27). You can also find the form on the Erasmus MC website. If you have any questions or comments, please visit the Patient and Healthcare Administration Front Service Desk, Medical Information Office, in the main hall of Erasmus MC, central location. The desk is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4 pm. You can also send an email to afschriftdossier@erasmusmc.nl.

If you do not agree with the contents of your records after having accessed them or receiving a copy, you can draw up a statement indicating your views on the treatment and ask your healthcare professional to include it in your records. The healthcare professional will accommodate your request.

You may also request your healthcare professional to destroy your medical records. In principle, the healthcare professional must comply with your request within three months (after having pointed out any potential risks to you), unless retaining the records is of significant importance for others or if legislation prohibits the destruction of the records.

You can view a summary of your medical records on the secure Patient Portal ‘Mijn Erasmus MC’ (My Erasmus MC), which will enable you to become more engaged with your health and treatment. The portal contains an extensive set of your medical data. On the website you can find information on what is currently available to you in ‘Mijn Erasmus MC’ (information in Dutch only). You can log on using your DigiD: www.erasmusmc.nl/mijnerasmusmc

Retention of medical records

The information in your records will be stored for a minimum of 15 years. University medical centers store certain medical data up to 115 years after the birth of the patient. You can also request to have your records destroyed. This request must be submitted in writing. In principle, your healthcare professional will comply with your request, except if retaining the records is of significant importance for others. If the healthcare professional is unwilling to destroy your records, he or she must inform you accordingly and explain why.

Scientific research

At Erasmus MC we not only treat patients, but we also conduct research to develop new treatment methods. Scientific research is vital to gaining a better understanding of diseases and to developing improved treatment methods. This research will ultimately benefit patients. Legal standards govern the research activities to ensure that they are conducted in a responsible manner.

The Medical Ethics Review Committee assesses all research involving human subjects based on certain criteria before any study is carried out. Researchers must inform each patient in detail about:
– the nature of the study;
– any advantages or disadvantages (in general and specifically for the patient);
– what the patient’s participation will entail;
– the extent to which the study will be a burden on the patient.

It is always up to the patient to decide whether or not to participate in a study. Whatever your decision, it will not in any way affect the treatment you receive.
Should you decide not to participate or to withdraw from a study, your decision will always be respected.

On occasion our hospital may decide that we want to carry out research using the data obtained during your treatment but long after your visit to Erasmus MC. These types of research questions often occur after your treatment at Erasmus MC has been completed, and may be the result of new scientific discoveries or experiences elsewhere.
In the interest of these studies, information on your treatment will be provided and at times access may even be given to your medical records. In principle, your permission will always be sought before this happens. Your data can only be used without your consent in cases where it is not reasonably possible for us to obtain it. In this case, your privacy will be protected and your personal data will be stored under a code number. The researchers are bound by a strict duty of confidentiality.

During the course of your treatment you will need to provide cell or tissue samples regularly. These body material samples will be used to identify your condition. Some of the leftover cells and/or tissue (leftover tissue) will be stored. The rest will be destroyed. In some cases leftover tissue will be stored for medical research.

The leaflet ‘Leftover tissue for medical research’ (information in Dutch only) will provide you with information on the rules that apply and your rights.

Euthanasia

As a patient, if your suffering is unbearable and hopeless, you can request a physician to support you with euthanasia or assisted suicide, if certain due care criteria are met. The patient’s request must be voluntary and well-considered, and the physician in question must consult with at least one other independent physician.

The Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)

It is important that you indicate your wishes and any treatment limitations. You can do this during your meeting with your physician or the ward physician, and you can also draw up a written advance directive, in which you specify under which circumstances you do not wish to receive CPR and/or mechanical ventilation. The healthcare professional must be aware that you have an advance directive. The directive (also known as a living will) must be clear, recently dated, and signed. All agreements and documentation are entered into your medical record to ensure that other physicians on duty are also aware of these agreements.

Additional information can be found in the leaflet ‘Whether or not to resuscitate for adults (over the age of 16)’ (information in Dutch only).

Overview of patient responsibilities

Patients also have certain responsibilities to ensure optimal treatment, namely:
– Provide the healthcare professionals with clear and complete information so that they can make a correct diagnosis and provide expert treatment;
– Follow the advice of your healthcare professional to the best of your ability, with regard to the use of medication, dietary requirements, etc.;
– Show respect and understanding for your practitioner(s) and fellow patients;
– Provide the hospital with correct information on your health insurance and pay your bills on time. You are always responsible for paying the costs of your hospital treatment. This also applies if you are insured; you will always be personally accountable for the costs of treatment.
– Have an ID card in your possession at all times within the hospital.
– Take your patient card to outpatient appointments in the hospital so that it is clear who you are and your practitioner is identified.
– Wear the identification wristband that you receive on admission to the department. This is a plastic wristband with your name, date of birth and department on it, which will help identify you, both on and off your ward.

Filing a complaint

The hospital is committed to providing excellent healthcare. However, you may be unhappy with particular aspects of your treatment and/or your hospital stay. You should first discuss your concerns with the person you feel is responsible. If you do not wish to do this or if this conversation fails to resolve the problem, you can report your complaint to the staff at the reception desk. They will provide you with the contact details for Erasmus MC’s complaints officer.

You can then submit your complaint in writing to the complaints officer. The complaints officer will contact you as soon as possible after receiving your complaint. You can read more about the Erasmus MC’s complaints procedure on our website “Rights and obligations, complaints” (complaint procedure).

Budget, financial information and general payment terms

The rates for nursing, examinations, and treatment have been laid down by law by the NZa (the Dutch Healthcare Authority). All bills for your physician, specialist, and hospital stay will be sent directly to your health insurer where possible. However, it is important to check your health insurance policy before your treatment and/or hospitalization in terms of what it covers.
The hospital applies general payment terms and conditions to all agreements between you as a patient and the hospital.

The general payment terms stipulate how and within what period bills must be paid, and also what the consequences are of not paying in full or on time.

Questions

If you have any questions after reading this leaflet, feel free to contact our general number (010) 704 0 704.

© Erasmus MC 2016 – Patienten communication – No rights may be derived from the content of this content.

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