Patients’s rights in France

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The French National Health Authority’s (HAS) website provides a comprehensive list of patients’ rights. These include:

Freedom from discrimination

No one may be subjected to discrimination with regard to access to prevention or care. A health care professional may not refuse to treat a person for any of the following reasons: origin, sex, family circumstances, pregnancy, physical appearance, particular vulnerability resulting from the person’s apparent or known financial circumstances, last name, place of residence, state of health, loss of independence, disability, genetic characteristics, customs, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political opinions, union activities, ability to speak a language other than French, or actual or supposed membership or non-membership in an ethnic group, a Nation, a supposed race, or a given religion.

Anyone who believes they have been subjected to an unjustified denial of care can submit a formal complaint to the director of the local health insurance fund or to the president of the appropriate local professional board to report the presumed discriminatory event. This referral is equivalent to filing a complaint. If no subsequent complaint is submitted, a mediation procedure is conducted within three months of receipt of the complaint by a joint committee composed of an equal number of representatives of the appropriate local professional board and of the local health insurance fund. If the local professional board fails to act within the three-month deadline, the director of the local health insurance fund can take disciplinary action against the health care professional.

Informed consent

The patient has the right to information on his/her state of health. This information pertains to any examinations, treatments, or preventive care that may be offered, the expected benefits of this care, whether are not it is urgent, the consequences it may have, the common or serious risks that can normally be foreseen, as well as any other possible solutions and the foreseeable consequences if the patient refuses treatment.

All health care professionals are required to inform patients as part of the services they provide and pursuant to the professional rules that apply to them. They may only be exempted from this requirement in emergency situations or where it is impossible to inform the patient.

This information is provided as part of an individual conversation.

The patient’s decision to be kept unaware of his/her diagnosis or prognosis must be
respected, except where third parties are exposed to a risk of transmission.

With respect to minors or adults under guardianship, the rights mentioned in this article are exercised by those with parental rights or by the patient’s guardian, as applicable.

Each patient works with his/her health care professional to make health-related decisions on the basis of the information and recommendations the health professional provides. All patients have the right to refuse or not to receive a treatment. The doctor is required to respect the patient’s wishes after informing him/her of the consequences and the seriousness of this choice.

No medical procedure or treatment can be performed without the patient’s free and informed consent, and this consent can be withdrawn at any time.

A minor or adult under guardianship must be systematically asked for consent if s/he is capable of expressing his/her wishes and of taking part in the decision-making process. If a refusal of treatment by the person with parental rights or by the guardian may have serious consequences for the minor or adult under guardianship, the doctor shall provide the care that is crucial to his/her health.

Right to privacy

Any individual receiving care from a health care professional, facility, or unit, or from a
professional or organization offering prevention or treatment services, has the right to
privacy and confidentiality of his/her personal information. Indeed, all of the information about the person of which the health care professional, any staff member working at the facility, unit, or organization, or any other person whose work brings him/her in contact with these facilities or organizations, becomes aware, must be kept confidential. This confidentiality requirement applies to all professionals involved in France’s health care system.

Information on the cost of care

The patient has a right to information on how much s/he may be charged for any
preventive, diagnostic, or treatment-related services and, where applicable, to information on how any care is covered and on exemptions from up-front payment. This information is provided free of charge.

Patients’ rights