When you come into our hospital, we do our utmost to help you as best we can. We aim to provide the best healthcare and treatment. And we do so in partnership with you. Including by supplying information and trading experiences. By seeking the help of a healthcare provider, you are entering into a medical treatment agreement. You are tasking us with providing healthcare. This could include an examination, treatment or advice. This relationship between healthcare provider and patient is governed by the provisions of Medical Treatment Contracts Act or WGBO).
Patient rights and obligations are set out in the Wet op de geneeskundige behandelingsovereenkomst ("Medical Treatment Contracts Act" or WGBO). One important aspect is the right to information and the right to give consent to treatment. This is called "informed consent." This means that you will decide together with the healthcare provider what is to be done. All hospitals and healthcare providers are obliged to comply with the provisions of this WGBO act. The most important rights for patients aged 16 years and over can be found below.
The law states that you are entitled to:
As a patient you have a right to receive information in readily comprehensible language. Only if you are properly informed will you be in a position to contribute to thinking and decision-making about your treatment. The healthcare provider must always inform you verbally. This can be backed up by information in writing.
You have a right to information on:
- the nature and purpose of the treatment or the examination and the operations to be performed
- the consequences and risks thereof
- other eligible methods of treatment or examination
- consequences of not performing treatment or an examination
- the aftercare
This ensures that you know what is going to happen and enables you to reach a good decision in consultation with the healthcare provider. Don’t understand something? Or forgotten something? Then do please ask for an explanation.
If you do not wish to receive certain information, then you are entitled to refuse it. The Medical Treatment Contracts Act (WGBO) stipulates that patients have a right not to receive information. If, for example, you do not wish to know whether or not you are at an increased risk of a hereditary disease, then you will be entitled to refuse that information. Only if the healthcare provider is of the opinion that not being aware of such information could have serious adverse consequences for you or others will they be able to insist on providing the relevant information.
Recording conversation in the consulting roomYou are allowed to record the consult you have with your healthcare professional in the consulting room (sound recording). That way, you can listen to the information quietly and carefully at home. A sound recording of the conversation for example can help you make a treatment decision. Important to know:
- ask permission from your healthcare professional before sound recording. This is not mandatory, but it is kind.
- the recording is only meant for yourself. Without permission from the healthcare professional, you cannot share the recording in public.
- you cannot make a video or photograph from your healthcare professional. Video and photographs can harm the privacy of the healthcare professional.
You are entitled to decide about your treatment yourself. For example, it is for you to decide whether or not you will undergo a certain examination or not.
Talking about treatment wishes and limits
There could also be limits that you wish to set in terms of the treatment you receive in the hospital. For example, some patients do not wish to be resuscitated. Forgoing certain treatment is something we refer to as a "treatment limit." Your physician could also take the initiative to impose a treatment limit. This will happen if a treatment is not (or is no longer) medically worthwhile.
The healthcare provider requires your verbal consent to commence a treatment. This consent is not usually sought explicitly. If you come to our hospital for an examination, for surgery or to be admitted, then we will assume that you are consenting to what is to be done. For certain aspects, however, the healthcare provider will seek separate consent.
These may include:
- an operation,
- an endoscopic examination (which entails a flexible tube being inserted into the body to examine it),
- risky treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy,
- the use of blood and blood products.
If you give your consent, the healthcare provider will be expecting you to cooperate with your treatment. By following advice, for example.
Ceasing a treatment
You are entitled to refuse a treatment, healthcare or medication. This could even be after you have given your consent. Please always discuss your doubts with your healthcare provider. The healthcare provider will tell you what the consequences of your decision will be. It could be that you do not (or no longer) wish to receive treatment, even though refusing it will put you in danger. In such cases, the healthcare provider will have to explain this clearly. If you wish to cease a treatment, please discuss this in a timely fashion. Otherwise the healthcare provider will be entitled to charge you for this. The healthcare provider will respect your decision.
Are there any treatments that you are really not keen on? Then it would be a good idea to set these down in a living will (or testament). Examples include a "non-resuscitation statement" or a "treatment prohibition."
A medical file
In order to ensure good treatment, it will be necessary for the physician treating you to compile a file. This is also a statutory obligation for all healthcare providers. The file contains information on:
- your health situation
- examinations and treatments you have undergone
- data that your physician has requested with your consent, from your family doctor or a medical specialist in another hospital, for instance.
The UMC Utrecht staff will do their best to safeguard your privacy. This means that:
- we handle your personal and medical data with care
- we do not provide unauthorized persons access to your data
Confidentiality of information
Physicians, nursing staff and other staff of the UMC Utrecht are bound by a duty of professional confidentiality. They are only allowed to provide information on you to other parties with your prior written consent. Those involved in your treatment are entitled to request and exchange data among themselves, but only to the extent necessary for your treatment. The physician treating you will report on the examination and the treatment to the referring party. This may be your family doctor or another medical specialist.
Data on your clinical picture may also be used for scientific research and education under certain circumstances. Data on a variety of diseases is amassed (record-keeping) at national level. The UMC Utrecht cooperates with efforts to this end. The aim of the records is to obtain more wide-ranging knowledge on specific diseases.
Research data on patients’ experiences of their treatment and on the outcomes of various treatments is processed anonymously. This means that this data is not subsequently linked to patient names. The data is collected so as to continuously improve patient treatment.
Viewing, copies and destruction of your file
You and your legal representative have the right to read your medical and nursing file. You can arrange for this by requesting a copy from the physician treating you. This is something that you need to do in writing.
- Copy of file application form (only available in Dutch)
You can use the form below to submit a request to have your file destroyed. Please bear in mind that not all data can be destroyed. We are required to retain the core file. Further information on this can be read in "File retention period."
- Destruction of file application form (only available in Dutch)
Amending or adding to your file
If you or your legal representative are of the opinion that data in your file is factually inaccurate or incomplete, then you can ask the physician treating you to correct this or add to it. You can also ask to add your own (supplementary) statement to the file.
- Amend or add to your file application form (only available in Dutch)
File retention period
The UMC Utrecht is required by law to retain the core file up to 115 years after your birth. The core file comprises:
- report from Emergency Room (if applicable)
- an operation report (if applicable)
- an anesthesia report (if applicable)
- pathology report (pathologists study patients’ tissue in the laboratory in order to be able to reach a diagnosis, for instance)
- a discharge letter (letter to your family doctor)
The other data in your file (e.g. diagnostic and treatment data or outcomes of examinations) are required by law to be retained for 15 years. The UMC Utrecht opts to retain this data for 115 years as well, unless you want us to destroy it sooner.
Within healthcare, you have the right to request a second opinion. This is the opinion or advice of a different expert from your own healthcare provider. You are always entitled to ask for a second opinion. You do need neither our approval nor that of your own care provider, although talking with your care provider about a second opinion could be useful. The party giving the second opinion does not take over the treatment.
You can request a second opinion at various points. For example, if you have to make an important decision about your treatment or if you have doubts about a diagnosis or treatment. Discuss a request for a second opinion in advance with your healthcare insurer, because if the healthcare insurer does not accept the costs, you will have to bear the costs yourself.
Who decides? Incapacity to decide/give consent
A healthcare provider must always seek a patient’s consent prior to being allowed to treat the patient. Occasionally this is not possible, however. For example, if someone is unconscious, suffering from dementia or temporarily unable to decide due to a stroke. In such situations the person concerned is found to be incapable of deciding on their treatment at that juncture. We refer to this as "incapacity to decide/give consent." Those decisions will then have to be made by someone else. This could be someone from their own (family) circle, for instance.
Somebody cannot be labeled incapable of deciding/giving consent just like that. A person is assumed to be capable of deciding/giving consent until the contrary is established. In the case of early-stage dementia, for example, another person cannot simply step in and make all the decisions!
The physician will be the first person to establish whether or not a patient is capable of making a particular decision with regard to their healthcare or treatment. They will not do so alone, however, but in conjunction with other staff involved in the patient’s treatment. Family or people from the patient’s social circle can also play a role in this and offer their opinions. In order to establish whether or not someone is capable of deciding/giving consent, there are a few characteristics that will give the physician an indication.
Generally speaking, somebody is found incapable of deciding/giving consent if they are unable to understand the information on their condition at that point in time and hence to make a sound decision on treatment or to oversee the consequences of such treatment. You might already have some clear wishes in the event of you becoming incapable of deciding/giving consent.
Dissatisfied? Right to complain
It could be that you are dissatisfied with the healthcare or service provided by the UMC Utrecht. We would appreciate it if you could let us know. This will give us the opportunity to find a solution together with you and it will help us to improve the quality of our hospital. The right to complain is laid down in the Wet klachtrecht cliënten zorgsector ("Clients' Right of Complaint (Care Sector) Act" or WKCZ).
If you are not happy with something, please discuss this on the ward or with your physician and try to come up with a solution. If this proves unsuccessful, then you can submit a complaint. To do so, please get in touch with the Patient Service department. They will be able to provide you with further information on the various complaints procedures. The department includes complaints mediators who will liaise with you and those involved to work toward a solution.
Please feel free to contact the Patient Service department on +31 (0)88 75 562 08.