The Patient’s Rights Law was approved by the Knesset on May 1, 1996. The law has come to define the relationship between people requiring treatment and doctors and other medical professionals. The following statement appears in the first paragraph of the law: “This law’s purpose is to define the rights of a person requesting medical treatment or receiving medical treatment and to protect his dignity and privacy.”
Medical treatment is a partnership between the patient and the medical team. The assumption upon which the Patient’s Rights Law is based is that the patient is an intelligent person generally capable of asserting his/her right to receive proper medical treatment. The following protections are guidelines that emerge from this law and others, and from directives issued by Misrad Habriut (The Ministry of Health) to protect the patient’s dignity and privacy.
During an Examination
Physical examination in private
Anyone who is examined is entitled to have an additional person present, either a person of his/her choice or an employee, while the examination is being performed.
The presence of a student during a medical examination
A patient has the right to refuse the presence of and/or examination by a student while the patient is receiving medical treatment.
Transfer of medical information to both parents regarding their children
In general, both parents have rights to information regarding a child’s treatment, and giving consent, and the parent who is present is usually sufficient to make decisions and/or represent the other parent. However, there may be mitigating legal or other circumstances. The Ministry of Health has published precise instructions about health service providers making information accessible to both parents, and when the consent of one or the other must be requested.
The obligation to maintain confidentiality regarding the treatment given to the patient is the foundation upon which the patient’s trust in the doctor is based. Both the Privacy Protection Law and the Patient’s Rights Law require guarding medical information. These laws are applicable for anyone treating a patient and not solely for doctors. The importance for these rules is clear; for example, the damage that might be done to an individual in certain communities if knowledge of her having an abortion was publicly known or if the facts of a businessman’s illness were known to his associates.
Transfer of Information
The Patient’s Rights Law distinctly establishes the obligation for medical confidentiality and only permits transfer of information to a third party in the follow circumstances:
- The information is given to a different caregiver for continuation of treatment.
- Research purposes (in accordance with Helsinki regulations).
- In accordance with different regulatory requirements (i.e. transfer of information to the Ministry of the Interior for purposes of issuing a firearm license; transfer of information to the National Cancer Registry; notification of infectious diseases, etc.).
- When the patient has agreed to waive the privilege by signing a “Written Medical Confidentiality Waiver (Vasar)”.
- General Healthcare Rights
- Maintaining Patient Dignity and Privacy During Medical Treatment
- Presence of a Family Member During Medical Examinations
- Presence of a Family Member During Physical Examinations and Medical Treatment of Minors
- Disclosing Medical Information to a Patient’s Family
- Disclosing Medical Information to Others
- Maintaining Medical Confidentiality