On May 1 1996 the Knesset adopted the Patient Protection Law. It applies to foreign patients as well as to Israeli citizens.
In some countries the patient is a passive party in the treatment process but in Israel he/she is considered to be a central figure and an equal partner in determining the treatment strategy.
The main principle of the Israeli Patient Protection Law is a provision under which a patient may insist on his right to receive the necessary treatment. This right is enshrined in the first paragraph of the law: “The purposes of this law are to define the rights of a person who seeks medical help or already gets it, and to protect his dignity and the right for privacy”.
The main advantage of the law is that it not only protects the rights of the patient, but also identifies the responsibilities of the medical staff in charge of his treatment.
Alongside the citizens of the country, foreign patients in Israel have the following rights:
1. The right to receive medical care.
Health care in Israel should be granted without any restriction to every person who needs it, regardless of gender, race, religion and origin. Medical assistance should be provided in accordance with the terms accepted in the health care system in Israel.
2. The right for urgent medical care.
In certain cases, the patient has the right for urgent medical care without any conditions. The doctor who receives the patient must examine him/her and provide the necessary aid.
3. The right for good quality health care.
Every patient has the right to receive good quality health care from the point of view of the level of professionalism and humane treatment.
4. The right to obtain full medical information.
The patient has the right to be informed about his disease.
5. The right for confidentiality.
All employees must obey confidentiality rules regarding every patient.
6. The right to respect the honour and dignity of the patient.
The patient has the right for confidentiality and privacy at all stages of medical care.
7. The right to accept or refuse a treatment.
In Israel the patient must give his consent to any medical procedure. The staff must provide him/her with all the necessary information regarding the treatment and its risks. The consent may be oral or written.
8. The right to receive full information about the designated procedures, as well as the identity of the persons providing medical care.
The patient has the right to know the names and positions of the persons who provide him with medical care, as well as their degree of proficiency. The patient should be aware of all the pros and cons of the therapy. The information should be clear to the patient. In special cases, the doctor may decide not to give the patient full or partial information if it can harm him or threaten his life. Such decisions must be examined by the Committee on Medical Ethics.
9. The right to obtain a second opinion of another doctor and receive information about alternative treatment options.
10. The right for continuing treatment.
A patient who is transferred from one doctor to another or to another medical institution, has the right to ask for cooperation between doctors or medical facilities to guarantee the continuance of the necessary medical care.
Special teams execute the control over the implementation of the Patient Protection Law in medical institutions. They learn patient complaints, explain the law to the staff and deal with special cases.
In conclusion, one of the major advantages of the Israeli health care system is the quality assurance and the strict protection of the patient rights. These principles are not just wishful thinking but a legal responsibility of the staff in all medical institutions.