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Patients' Rights Laws in Europe

Patients Rights in EuropePatient rights are a reflection of human rights. The human right movement has gathered importance in the world since 1945, when, on 10 December 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. This was followed, on 4 November, 1950, by the signature of the European Convention of Human Rights. The rights of the patients, as specific human rights became recognized throughout the European region only in the past two decades.

Especially important was the European Consultation on the Rights of Patients, held in Amsterdam on 28-30 March 1994 under the auspices of the WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO-EURO), and hosted by the Government of the Netherlands, which was attended by some 60 persons from 36 Member States. The purpose was to define principles and strategies for promoting the rights of patients, within the context of the health care reform process underway in most countries in Europe.

Access to patient files is secured  by Article 18 of the Comment 34 to Article 19 (2) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 12 (b) (iv)General Comment 14 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Patients rights and their foundation in several European countries are described here:


WHO Activities, Council of Europe and EU

Organization Name with Link Translation
EU, 1979 Charter of the Hospital patient: Continuation?  
WHO, 1986 Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion: Deutsch
WHO Europe, 1994 Declaration on the promotion of patients' rights in Europe- Amsterdam March 1994:  
WHO Europe, 1996

Ljubljana Charter on Reforming Health Care:

Council of Europe, 1996 The 5th Conference of Health Ministers: "Social challenge to health : equity and patients rights in the context of health reforms":  
Council of Europe - ETS no. 164, 1997 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being with regard to the Application of Biology and Medicine. Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine Deutsch
WHO, 1997

Gothenburg Workshop: Patients’ Rights in Europe as at June 1997: (Map of patterns)

WHO Europe, 22-23 April 1999 Patients’ rights and citizens’ empowerment, Copenhagen, Denmark 22-23 April 1999. European network for patients' rights: "Patients consistently report that their opinions are not adequately considered and that their rights are often violated," said Dr Mikko Vienonen, regional adviser at the WHO's regional office for Europe.  
Council of Europe, 2000 Recommendation Rec (2000) 5 on the development of structures for citizen and patient participation in the decision-making process affecting health care:  
EU, 2001 European Health Forum:  
EU, 2006 Health-EU Portal:  


Patients' Rights Laws

Country Name with Link Translation
Finland, 1992

Lag om patientens ställning och rättigheter (785/1992):

Netherlands, 1994 Dutch Medical Treatment Act 1994:  
Israel, 1996
Patient´s Rights Act:  
Lithuania, 1996 Law on the Rights of Patients and Damage Done to Patients:  
Iceland, 1997 Lög um réttindi sjúklinga: English
Latvia, 1997 Law of Medicine (=The law on medical treatment):  
Hungary, 1997 Rights and Obligations of Patients (According to Act CLIV of 1997 on Health): The Szószóló Foundation supports patients rights. Hungarian
Greece, 1997 Law 2519/21-8-97  
Denmark, 1998 Lov om patienters retsstilling, LOV nr 482 af 01/07/1998 English
Norway, 1999 Pasientrettighetsloven: Other Norwegian Health laws. Deutsch, English
Georgia, 2000 The Law of Georgia on the Rights of patients  
France, 2002 LOI n° 2002-303 du 4 mars 2002 relative aux droits des malades et à la qualité du système de santé (1):  
Belgium, 2002 Act on Patients’ Rights, (in Dutch or French).  
Switzerland, 2003 Patientenrechtverordnung 1991, Patientenrechtsgesetz ist in Vorbereitung: Hearing:  
Russia Principles of The Russian Federation Legislation No. 5487-I: On protection of citizens' health of 22 July 1993 and amendments. (Patients rights in several different laws) English and Russian
Estonia, 2002 Draft of the Act on Patients' Rights PATSIENDISEADUS: Estonian
Romania, 2003 Law of Patients’ Rights (law 46). Prof. Dr. Dan Tudor Vuza: The Patient’s Family, between the Right to Know the Truth and the Medical Secret  
Cyprus, 2005 Law 1/2005: PATIENT RIGHTS LAW Greek
Germany, 2013 Patient Rights Law German


Charters of the Rights of Patients

Country Name with Link Translation
France 1974 and  1995 Charte du Patient Hospitalisé:  
San Marino, 1989    
UK, (1991), 1997 The Patient's Charter for England:  
Czech Republic, 1992    
Spain, 1994 Charter of Rights and Duties of Patients  
Ireland, 1995 Charter of Rights for Hospital Patients  
Malaysia, 1995 Patient's Charter:  
Portugal, 1997 Patients' Rights Charter:  
Honk Kong, 1999 Patients' Charter:  
Germany, 1999 Charta der Patientenrechte vom 9./10. Juni 1999:  
Poland, 1999 Information on patients rights by the Ministry of Health (Karta Praw Pacjenta). Polish Patients Association: Letter to Commissioner for Human Rights.  
Slovakia, 2000 Charter on the Patients Rights in the Slovak Republic (draft):  
Austria, 2001 Vereinbarung zur Sicherstellung der Patientenrechte (Patientencharta):  
Germany, 2001 Experts support patients' rights law: Sachverständigenrat tritt für Patientenrechte-Gesetz ein. The German health system is most expensive in EU, but only under average (World Health Report 2000: Rank 25) in quality of services.  Petition der Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der Notgemeinschaften Medizingeschädigter e.V.  (PDF-format.)  
Cyprus, 2001 Cyprus Patients Rights' Charter: Charter Patients' Rights.doc  
Germany, 2002 Patientenrechtscharta:  
Europe, 2002 Active Citizenship Network: European Charter of Patients Rights  
Italy Active Citizenship Network: Italian Charter of Patients Rights  

Six years after the WHO Declaration on the Promotion of Patients’ Rights in Europe (Amsterdam, 1994), more than eight countries (Denmark, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway) have enacted laws on the rights of patients; and four countries (France, Ireland, Portugal and the United Kingdom) have used Patients’ Charters as a tool to promote patients’ rights. (German version). European Journal of Health Law 7: 1-3, 2000: Lars Fallberg: Patients’ Rights in Europe: Where do we stand and where do we go?  

PatientNavigation is intended to improve transparency in health care by providing support to patients and their counsellors in finding their way through the tangled web of the health care system. It is not designed as a pilot, guiding and deciding, but as a compass that provides information but leaves the decision with the person concerned.

Support the Rights of Patients by E-Mail to the European Commission with a copy to the European Parliament.

Many countries in the EU have laws or charters securing the Rights of Patients. But minimum standards are lacking.  In order to give all citizens in Europe a minimum of patients rights and to keep up with the international development patients rights should be strengthened in EU member states.

Support Patients Rights, by the following E-Mail to the European Commission (click here):
I support the call to the European Commission for securing the rights of patients.
I a guideline I suggest to use European Charter of Patients Rights and the "Recommendation Rec (2000) 5 of the Council of Europe on the development of structures for citizen and patient participation in the decision-making process affecting health care": .
(You may change the text according to your needs).

Support the Rights of Patients by E-Mail to the Federal Government in Germany

Many countries in the EU have laws securing the Rights of Patients. Germany is one of the countries in the EU without such a law. In order to keep up with the international development a law on patients' rights should also be adopted in Germany.

Support a German Patients' Rights Law, by the following E-Mail to the German Government (click here):
I support the call to the German Government for securing the rights of patients by law.

I suggest to implement the European Charter of Patients Rights and the "Recommendation Rec (2000) 5 of the Council of Europe on the development of structures for citizen and patient participation in the decision-making process affecting health care": .
(You may change the text according to your needs).

Warning: I do not accept any liability that the information on these pages is correct, accurate or up to date!

Please feel free to link this site!

PS: Thanks to all, who gave me this information. Please do not hesitate to mail me if you have one of the "missing links".

Visitor No. since 4. August 2001

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