Patients’ Rights in the Healthcare System – Serbia and European Perspectives
Shedding light on the position of patients as beneficiaries of medical services in the healthcare system.
The rights of patients are not separately legislated in the Republic of Serbia. The Patient Bill of Rights made in 1999 by an interdisciplinary team of legal and medical professors and practitioners has not been met with a wide acceptance.
There is a deficit of knowledge in this area of medical and legal practice. Numerous problems have been identified when it comes to application of regulations in practice and inexistence of clear guidelines for healthcare institutions in order to establish good practice in treating those suffering from rare diseases in Serbia.
Adequacy, i.e. suitability of healthcare services also needed to be secured through better organisation of the services’ operation, as it was shown with the opening of the reference Centres for Rare Diseases, as well as including acquiring special knowledge pertaining to these diseases for medical professionals as a part of their continuous education.
Work on the project involved a couple of stages, bearing in mind the theoretical character of the project, and it was realised through individual engagement of associates in a number of thematic units within the domain of their expertise. The team was composed intentionally of legal experts with somewhat different basic orientations: three experts in medical law, one for family law, one for public law and two PhD students with their future theses in the field of medical law.
Advantages of separate legislation were discussed. The issues of responsibility in medicine were comprehensively researched from the perspective of substantive and procedural protection of patients’ rights. Authorities of the European Ombudsman and the role of the European Court of Human Rights were both researched.
A collection of papers titled Patient Rights in the Healthcare System – Serbia and European Perspectives, as well as a monograph titled Pharmaceutical Law – Legislation on Drugs and Drug-Induced Damage were published as the final result of the project.
The collection included as annexes the first integral Serbian translations of the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine and European Charter of Patients’ Rights. These important documents, both in terms of national legislation and practice, thus became available to professional and scientific public, but also to all citizens as users of healthcare services.
The project significantly contributed to public becoming acquainted with and understanding the problem of patient rights, insufficiently present in law theory, practice and legislation of Serbia.
The project fully presented current trends in the field of patients’ rights. It provided suggestions for Serbian legislators to legislate certain rights for the first time, and to regulate some other rights more precisely and comprehensively. After analysing the condition in Serbia, the project offered proposals for the improvement of patients’ rights, legislation and implementation of European regulations, with the aim of harmonising healthcare legislation.
As this is an interdisciplinary field, the results were shared with members of professional public, but also with citizens, individuals and institutions that work in the field of healthcare and apply the legislation pertaining to patients’ rights.