Patient rights and obligations

The Patient Symposium on Saturday September 29th reviewing Patient rights and obligations, considered the ‘health care financial Tsunami’ currently facing European cancer patients and what patients can best do to facilitate good relationships with their doctors.

Ms Kathi Apostolidis, a breast cancer and patients’ rights advocate from Greece, reviewed patient rights in ‘turbulent’ financial times. She quoted the results of a recent Cancer World survey on the impact of public spending cuts on frontline cancer care answered by 90 respondents from 20 European member states – where 10% reported ‘no’ impact on the quality of cancer care, 40% ‘some impact’, 35% ‘quite an impact’ and 15% a ’huge impact’.

“European cancer patients will suffer bitterly in the years to come. The translation of the austerity measures for cancer patients, who mostly use the public health care system, will mean very long waiting times for appointments with surgeons oncologists, and radiotherapists,” she said.

Dr Lorenz Jost the Cancer Patient Working Group Chair, from Kantonspital, Bruderholz, Switzerland, gave the ‘medical view’ of patient’s obligations. “Most problems with doctor-patient relationships arise due to poor communication. Communication always involves both partners. So – give your best too!”

Patients, said Dr Jost, need to tell medical staff the truth regarding their medical histories, the actual mediations taken, and any additional/ complementary therapies.
It was also of vital importance, he added, that patients adhere to treatment. “You need to take medications as prescribed. Don’t just take half or the double. You need to tell your doctor if you can’t and why, and you need to be honest about any side effects,” he said.

On the topic of not endangering health care workers patients, he said, you need to tell the truth regarding known communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis, HIV infection and viral hepatitis. Patients need to appreciate that if they expect respect, they should show respect to health care workers, which should facilitate communication and treatment. “But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask questions, request clarifications, ask for alter- native treatment proposals and request a second opinion,” said Dr Jost.
Kathi Apostolidis, a breast cancer and patient rights advocate, reviewed patient rights in ‘turbulent’ financial times. The results of a recent Cancer World Survey on the impact of public spending cuts on frontline cancer care – which was answered by 90 respondents from 20 European member states – showed that 10 % reported ‘no’ impact on the quality of cancer care, 40% ‘some impact’, 35% ‘ quite an impact’ and 15% a’ huge impact’.

“European cancer patients will suffer bitterly in the years to come. The translation of the austerity measures for the cancer patients, who mostly use the public health care system, will mean very long waiting times for appointments with surgeons, oncologists, and radiotherapists,” she said.