Patient rights

Every patient should be aware of their rights in order to participate fully in decisions concerning their health and to receive the appropriate medical treatment. This will also promote trust between the patient and medical personnel.

An essential aspect of all human rights – also including patient rights – is the concept of individual (personal) autonomy.

In the context of a patient’s health care, this means the ability to:

  • access health care, which means - getting the medical help you need
  • choose your doctor and medical institutions
  • receive information about your health and treatment
  • agree (consent) to or refuse proposed medical treatment be sure that information about your health is kept private and not disclosed to any unauthorised person

note This principle is not absolute – this information may be disclosed to other persons or institutions, but only in certain situations clearly provided by the law.

  • complain about possible violations and to receive compensation

In Estonia, all of these rights are regulated by Chapter 41 of the Law of Obligations Act.

note Patients also have some obligations such as  providing doctors with relevant information about their health.

Patient rights & Human rights

Patient rights are a separate subsection of the human right to health. They are closely linked to more ‘general’ human rights. For example, the right to private life including bodily autonomy and data protection aspects, the prohibition of discrimination, especially as regards access to and getting medical care, and the prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment (think about the unnecessary suffering one may experience if deprived of access to medication).

About this section

In this section, you can learn about your rights as a patient.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education