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Open Access Research article

Awareness and practice of patient's rights law in Lithuania

Danute Ducinskiene1*, Jurgita Vladickiene1, Ramune Kalediene1 and Irja Haapala2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Social Medicine, Faculty of Public Health, Kaunas University of Medicine, Kaunas, Lithuania

2 Department of Public Health and General Practice, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland

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BMC International Health and Human Rights 2006, 6:10  doi:10.1186/1472-698X-6-10

Published: 2 September 2006

Abstract

Background

Patient's rights law is intended to secure good medical practice, but it can also serve to improve understanding between patients and medical staff if both were aware of their rights.

Methods

Awareness and practice of the new patient's rights law in Lithuanian health care institutions was explored through a survey of 255 medical staff and 451 patients in the four Kaunas city medical units in 2002. Participation rates were 74% and 66%, respectively.

Results

Majority of the medical staff (85%) and little over one half of the patients (56%) had heard or read about the Law on Patient's Rights (p < 0.001). Only 50% of professionals compared to 69% of patients thought information for patients about diagnosis, treatment results and alternative treatments is necessary (p < 0.001). A clear discrepancy was indicated between physicians informing the patients (80% – 98% of physicians) and patients actually knowing (37% – 54%) their treatment prognosis, disease complications or possible alternative treatment methods.

Conclusion

These results suggest a need for awareness-raising among patients to improve the practical implementation of the Patient's Rights Law in Lithuania.