As a patient, you have rights in healthcare. Your GP must help you with your health and give you information about your health. For example, you have the right to information, the right to see your medical records, the right to privacy and the right to choose your own healthcare provider.
Right to information
You have the right to information about:
- your illness or condition,
- the examination or test, the treatment proposed by the GP or the advice to wait and see,
- other treatment options (this does not include alternative therapies),
- the consequences and risks of treatments, examinations or tests and waiting,
- the medications and possible side effects, and
- the costs of the treatment or the examination or test.
Do you have questions about the costs of care other than GP care? Your GP will then refer you to another healthcare provider for that information. Your health insurer can also give you information on your policy excess (deductible) and whether certain care is or is not covered by insurance.
Who receives information?
Sometimes the legal representative also receives information. The legal representative is a family member (usually the parents or carers), an authorised representative or a mentor. The legal representative receives information in the following cases:
- if the patient is legally incapable
- or if the patient is younger than 16 years old.
Children between 12 and 16 years old also receive an explanation from the doctor themselves. For patients aged 16 years and older, the doctor will only inform the parents or carers if desired by the patient himself or herself.
Permission for an examination, test or treatment
A doctor may only examine or treat you if you give him or her permission to do so. This is called consent.
An exception is an emergency situation in which the healthcare provider does not know your wishes. If, for example, you have had an accident and are unconscious, healthcare providers may start treating you without your permission in order to safe your life.
Children younger than 12 years old may not make decisions about medical examinations or treatment themselves. This is done by their parents.
Children between 12 and 16 years old decide together with their parents.
Children aged 16 years and older may decide themselves.
Right to view your medical records and right to privacy
Healthcare providers must keep medical records in which they save all your medical details. This includes information about your disease or condition, the treatment and the findings of various healthcare providers.
You may always view your own medical records. You may not see information about other people. Since 1 July 2020, you also have the right to view your medical records online (digitally).
Some details from your medical file will be sent to your health insurer and to the Central Administrative Office (Centraal Administratie Kantoor, CAK). This is to determine whether your care is covered by insurance.
The GP may not share your medical details with others. This is called medical confidentiality. He or she may only share these details in the following cases:
- if you have given permission for this yourself;
- if there is a legal obligation to do so (for example, in the case of infectious diseases);
- in an emergency situation, such as child abuse or domestic violence;
- if another healthcare provider, who is directly involved in your care, needs the details. If you do not want this, you can make an objection.
Right to choose your own GP
You may choose your own GP. You might not be able to register with the GP of your choice. For example, in the following cases:
- That GP is not accepting new patients.
- Your health insurer does not have a contract with that GP. Pay attention to this if you have taken out a ‘contracted care’ (in natura) policy with your health insurer;
- You live too far away from that GP to be able to provide good care (also in case of an emergency).
- You have other ideas about healthcare than the GP. For example, views on alternative therapies or about euthanasia.
You can find a GP practice at www.kiesuwhuisarts.nl (in Dutch).
Right of complaint
If you are not satisfied with the care your GP provides, it is best to first discuss your complaint with the GP yourself.
As a patient you also have obligations (duties):
- You must inform the GP clearly and completely. This way the GP can provide the best possible examination and treatment.
- You must cooperate in any examinations, tests and treatment you have agreed to as much as possible, by following the doctor’s advice and instructions.
- You must pay the costs of the care you have received (even if the treatment was unsuccessful). In the Netherlands, everyone is required to take out health insurance.
In exceptional situations, people can be admitted to an institution against their will (compulsory admission), and receive compulsory treatment there if necessary. This is only possible if you are a danger to yourself or people around you. For example, because of a psychiatric illness, intellectual disability or dementia.
For information about this (in Dutch) see www.dwangindezorg.nl.