WA Health system

Your rights and responsibilities as a patient

When seeking or receiving healthcare in WA, you have certain rights and responsibilities. These essential rights form the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights (external site). A summary booklet is also available to help you understand your healthcare rights (external link).

Your rights:

Access

You have the right to:

  • access healthcare services and treatment that meets your needs.
Safety

You have the right to:

  • receive safe and high quality health care that meets national standards
  • be cared for in an environment that is safe and makes you feel safe.
Respect

You have the right to:

  • be treated as an individual, and with dignity and respect
  • have your culture, identity, beliefs and choices recognised and respected.

Respect and good communication between staff, patients and carers will help to create a positive hospital experience and better health outcomes.

Healthcare professionals have a duty to:

  • treat you respectfully
  • listen to your concerns
  • answer your questions clearly and honestly
  • inform and educate you about your illness.

Just as doctors and nurses and hospital staff should respect you, you also have a responsibility to treat staff and other patients with respect. This makes for a more pleasant hospital experience, both for you and those who will treat and care for you.

Partnership

You have the right to:

  • ask questions and be involved in open and honest communication
  • make decisions with your healthcare provider, to the extent that you choose and are able to
  • include the people that you want in planning and decision-making.
Information

You have the right to:

  • clear information about your condition, the possible benefits and risks of different tests and treatments, so you can give your informed consent
  • receive information about services, waiting times and costs
  • be given assistance, when you need it, to help you understand and use health information. (This can include accessing an interpreter service).

When you visit a doctor or hospital, a paper and electronic record is created. These records can be accessed quickly in an emergency and by other doctors and hospitals where needed.

You have the right to be told if something has gone wrong during your health care including:

  • how it happened
  • how it may affect you
  • what is being done to make care safe.

When things don't go as planned

Thousands of Australians are treated by clinicians, healthcare providers and organisations every day. While most people experience good health care, sometimes things don’t go as planned.

Health services are working to improve the way they handle things that don’t go to plan. Part of improving the way they manage these situations is by being open with you about what happened. The process of communicating with you when things haven’t gone as expected is called open disclosure.

The open disclosure process allows for honest discussions between the health service and you or your support people such as a family member, friend, carer or advocate. It also forms part of the process of improving the way health services manage these situations. If you have been harmed during your treatment, your doctor, nurse or other healthcare worker should talk with you about it. Staff, as well as patients and their family or carers, are encouraged to advise if things go wrong.

More information

WA Health services follow the principles in the Australian Open Disclosure Framework (external site) developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

There is a booklet for patients beginning an open disclosure process called Open disclosure of things that don’t go to plan in health care (external site) available from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare website.

Where to get help

Every health service will have a patient liaison officer that can assist you if you have been harmed during care or things haven’t gone to plan during your hospital visit.

See the list of WA Health patient/consumer liaison contacts.

Privacy

You have the right to:

  • have your personal privacy respected
  • have information about you and your health kept secure and confidential.

Learn more about medical records and your privacy on the during your hospital stay page.

Give feedback

You have the right to:

  • provide feedback or make a complaint without it affecting the way that you are treated
  • have your concerns addressed in a transparent and timely way
  • share your experience and participate to improve the quality of care and health services.

Every hospital has a process that enables patients to provide comments about the quality of health care they receive, including complaints and compliments. You can learn more about this process by contacting a staff member on your ward, or the manager of the hospital's customer liaison department.

View the list of WA Health patient/consumer liaison contacts.

Your responsibilities:

To help us to provide you the best possible care please:

  • tell us about your illnesses and hospital visits, symptoms, medications, allergies and other health related matters
  • tell us about any religious or cultural beliefs and requirements
  • treat all people you meet in the health service (staff, volunteers, patients, their families) with care, dignity and consideration
  • ask questions and talk to your family before making any decisions about your health care if relevant
  • follow staff instructions regarding your treatment and care
  • be on time for appointments and let your health service know if you need to cancel or reschedule, and notify us if your contact details change
  • respect the confidentiality and privacy of others.

Tell us about your experience

It is nice for staff to know when they have done a good job and constructive to learn how they can improve. Every hospital has a process that enables patients to provide comments about the quality of health care they receive, including compliments and complaints.

You can learn more about this process by contacting a staff member on your ward, the manager of the hospital’s customer liaison department, or the hospital reception who will redirect your call to the most appropriate manager.

You can provide feedback during and after your hospital stay.

Video – Your rights and responsibilities as a patient

Watch more of our videos at the WA Health YouTube channel (external site).

Read the video transcript – Your rights and responsibilities as a public patient.


Acknowledgements

Patient Safety and Clinical Quality


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice. Information about a service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace professional advice. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified professional for answers to their questions.

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