By Amon Aruho Kategaya
The patients' rights and responsibilities Bill that is still in its draft form seeks to empower patients to participate in the process of seeking or receiving health care and it also requires a patient to be treated with respect and dignity
At the moment Uganda does not have a distinct piece of legislation governing patient's rights and obligations currently the patient's rights are provided for in the patient's charter under the ministry of health, however, the charter simply remains persuasive because it lacks the legal force of law.
Further to that, health workers can be found liable under medical negligence where there must exist recognised legal duty of care and this duty has been breached by the health workers, the breach occasioned loss, damage or injury and this loss or damage was the direct or proximate causes of the breach of duty owed to the patient by the health worker.
More so some activists have come up to postulate that a health worker can be held liable under the Hippocratic Oath.
This Oath is sworn in by medical officers on their graduation upon completion of their studies, however, the legal implication of the Hippocratic Oath in regard to the liability of health workers towards their clients has not been precedented and it remains a persuasive subtle approach
Once this Bill is passed into law it will ensure that patients who go to both private and government health facilities are attended to and any sort of negligence by both health facilities and health workers is avoided.
This bill passed into law will further easier the work of the various councils regulating medical practioners that is the medical and dental practitioners council, Allied Health Professional Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council and if the government heeds to the pressure of Uganda Medical Association to disband the health monitoring unit of State House then this law will be the appropriate remedy to check and control the work of government health workers as they conduct their duties.
Before I take leave it is my call on all stake holders that is the members of Parliament, civil society organizations and the president to ensure that this bill is passed into law as soon as they can. Thank you so much.
The writer is a medical-legal consultant, dentist and lawyer