Patient Rights Every Kenyan Should Know

  • A patient receiving eye treatment in Matayos, Busia County
    A patient receiving eye treatment in Matayos, Busia County
    KNA
  • Over the years, patients receiving poor services in private and public hospitals have been rising. 

    Negligence from the facilities and individual healthcare workers has always been cited as one of the root causes, despite efforts by the government to scale up its resources. 

    Most Kenyans are unaware of their rights, enshrined in the 2010 Promulgated Constitution and The Kenya National Patient's Rights Charter (2013).

    Every Kenyan citizen has a right to access health care, from promotive, preventive, curative, reproductive, rehabilitative and palliative.

    Kirinyanga Governor Anne Waiguru (in sky blue blazer) showing UK ambassador to Kenya Jane Marriot (in blue pantsuit) around the Kerugoya Level Five Hospital on Wednesday October 19 2022
    Kirinyanga Governor Anne Waiguru (in sky blue blazer) showing UK ambassador to Kenya Jane Marriot (in a blue pantsuit) around the Kerugoya Level Five Hospital on Wednesday, October 19, 2022
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    Anne Waiguru

    Rights upon arrival and admission to a health facility

    Patients have the right to demand medicine, despite reports of a shortage of drugs. 

    A patient must receive emergency treatment in any health facility, whether private or public. This is regardless of whether they have the ability to pay.

    "In an emergency situation, irrespective of the patient's ability to pay, treatment to stabilize the patient's condition shall be provided," according to The Kenya National Patient's Rights Charter. 

    Insurance

    Every patient has the right to be informed of all the medical scheme/health insurance provisions.

    "Anyone enjoying provisions of medical cover is entitled to know all provisions accorded and challenge them if necessary," the charter states.

    Some patients seek treatment using medical cover only to be told their scheme does not cover that particular health issue or condition.

    Admission/Treatment

    You can choose your healthcare provider when you visit a hospital. A medical facility should not limit you in choosing a healthcare provider as long as he is registered and qualified to treat that particular ailment or disease.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta officially launches the Mwiki Hospital on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.
    Former President Uhuru Kenyatta officially launches the Mwiki Level 3 Hospital on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.
    PSCU

    "A patient's right to access a healthcare provide will not be hindered by any third party so long as the provider of choice is qualified, registered, retained and in current good standing with the Regulatory Authority to provide treatment for that particular ailment," Kenyan law on patient rights states.

    As a citizen, you have a right to get the highest attainable quality of healthcare products and services.

    You can also request to be transferred once you feel the services offered at your hospital of admission are poor. The facility is always advised against detaining you. 

    A hospital should not be forced to accept treatment. You have the right to refuse, withdraw or withhold treatment.

    "Any person may refuse treatment and such refusal shall be documented in writing by the medical service provider and in the presence of an independent witness, provided such refusal does not create immediate danger to the patient or the health of others and that the consciousness and competency of the person has been taken into account," the charter expounds.

    Before receiving treatment at any hospital, medics should explain in detail - using any language you understand - what the treatment entails. This includes the illness's nature, diagnostic procedures, proposed treatment and alternative treatments and their cost.

    In addition to informed consent, every patient is entitled to receiving full and accurate information concerning their health and healthcare.

    If you have been diagnosed with cancer, the facility must explain the severity of the disease and the treatment plan.

    A patient should be treated with respect and dignity.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta commissions hospitals on Tuesday night, July 6.
    Former President Uhuru Kenyatta commissions hospitals on Tuesday night, July 6, 2021.
    PSCU

    Every patient is entitled to a second opinion. This is not limited to diagnosis but also covers; procedures, method of treatment being proposed and medication given.

    Kenyans have a right to complain about health facilities. Those complaints should be promptly investigated, and the complainant responded to within a reasonable time that does not exceed 12 months.

    Discrimination while giving out health insurance cover on the basis of age, pregnancy, disability and illness, including mental disorders is ill-advised. 

    Confidentiality

    Confidentiality is guaranteed for every patient. Unless consent is explicitly given or disclosure is allowed by law or in the public interest, confidentiality is guaranteed even after the patient’s death.

    "Right to confidentiality shall be upheld where consent has expressly been given, or disclosure is allowed by law or in the public interest.

    Confidentiality shall be maintained even after a patient's death," Kenyan health law states.

    Finally, every person has a right to decide to donate his or her organs upon demise

    If any rights are infringed, a patient can lodge a complaint with the healthcare provider.

    If the healthcare provider does not amicably solve the dispute, a complaint can be lodged with the relevant regulatory authority.

    Should the resolution of the regulatory authority not be satisfactory, a patient can lodge a claim in court seeking appropriate remedies.

    Revital Healthcare technical director Krupali Shah and Kisumu county First Lady Dorothy Nyong'o at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital neonatal unit
    Revital Healthcare technical director Krupali Shah and Kisumu county First Lady Dorothy Nyong'o at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital neonatal unit
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