Modernisation of Patients' Rights Act.

The original Patients' Rights Act dates back to 22 August 2002. Thus, the law is more than 20 years old and was in need of a refresh.

On 17 July 2023, the bill to amend the Patients Act was approved by the federal government. This draft will be submitted to parliament. Several amendments can still be tabled, after which the draft law may be approved by parliament.

The main amendments concern: the possibility of early care planning, patient cooperation, more transparency for patients.

1. Early care planning.

Many patients wish to have more control over the type of treatments they wish to receive towards the end of their lives. This is different for everyone. Some patients attach more importance to home care, others still wish to achieve certain goals.

To meet patients' wishes, the concept of early care planning was introduced. Early care planning is the continuous thinking and communication process between the patient, the health professional(s) and, at the patient's request, the relatives with the aim of discussing the values, life goals and preferences of current and future care.

It is the intention of the legislator to give the patient the opportunity to fill in his/her/x quality of life as much as possible as they see fit. Healthcare providers will have to take these concerns into account as much as possible within their therapeutic freedom.

2. Patient collaboration.

Patient care is usually experienced together, with family and friends and, in case of death, with the next of kin.

The legislator wanted to give greater weight to the role of family, friends and after relatives.

Thus, the law included:

(a) The right to be assisted by a trusted person in the exercise of his/her rights;

(b) The exercise of his/her/x rights by the trustee when he/she has himself/herself become incapacitated.

The trustee is a person who assists the patient in exercising his/her rights as a patient. Henceforth, the law explicitly provides that the right to information, the right of inspection and the right to copies can also be exercised by the confidential adviser.

In the draft law, the appointment of the confidant will also be possible by electronic means. Multiple confidants may also be appointed.

3. Greater transparency for the patient.

In the draft law, the health practitioner will have to spend sufficient time to learn about the patient's preferences and situation.

When providing certain information to the patient could cause harm, the health practitioner will consider whether this information can be shared on a graduated basis. Exceptionally, the health professional may withhold this information from the patient after consulting another health professional. Always, in case of non-disclosure of adverse information, the confidential advisor should be informed.

For further questions regarding patient rights please contact Piet Vandoolaghe

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