The Public Defender of Rights

Protection of Persons Restricted in their Freedom

Healthcare facilities

Systematic visits to healthcare facilities where person restricted in their freedom are or may be located on the basis of statutory power (protective treatment, involuntary hospitalisation) or as a result of dependence on the provided care have been conducted by the Defender since 2006. The Defender is mainly concerned with the conditions of hospitalisation of patients and the observance of their fundamental rights or with the adequacy of the regime that the patient is expected to submit to.

A patient has a right to submit a complaint under certain circumstances to the head of a healthcare facility or the promoter or to a health insurance company. Nevertheless, it is not possible to demand remedy in case of malpractice, and a court action for the protection of personal rights in connection with the providing of healthcare is not suitable in the case of common complaints about the quality of healthcare. Moreover, there is no legal regulation that would regulate overall the rights and obligations of patients and the regime in healthcare facilities. The existing regulation is incomplete, and moreover fragmented into a number of various regulations, and insufficient. 

Conditions for the provision of healthcare and the related issue of the protection of the rights of patients are regulated in particular by Act No. 20/1966 Coll., on Care of People’s Health, Act No. 48/1997 Coll., on Public Health Insurance, Act No. 160/1992 Coll., on Healthcare in Non-state Healthcare Facilities, Decree No. 242/1991 Coll., on the System of Health Facilities Founded by District Authorities and Municipalities, and by Act No. 394/1991 Coll., on the Status, Organization and Operation of Teaching Hospitals and Other Hospitals, Selected Specialized Medical Institutions and Regional Public Health Control Stations in the Jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic, all as amended. Above all, however, the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine needs to be followed and the rights of patients have to be considered from the point of view of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, whereby the content of the Convention is interpreted.

Individual complaints about the quality of healthcare and the conditions of hospitalisation fall within the competence of the Defender only in cases when he is approached by a patient with ordered protective treatment. Otherwise, a patient has to turn with an individual complaint to the head of a healthcare facility or its promoter. Further, a patient may address a complaint to the body that registered the healthcare facility, i.e. either a municipal authority or the Ministry of Health, and, further, he or she may approach a health insurance where he or she is insured.   If a patient is not satisfied with the way the complaint has been dealt with by the municipal authority, the Ministry of Health or the insurance company, he or she may subsequently turn to the Defender since an inquiry into how the complaint has been dealt with falls within his competence. Alternatively, a patient may address the Czech Medical Chamber; however, the Defender in not entitled to investigate whether and in what manner the Chamber has dealt with the complaint.

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