Saudi hospital panels set up to protect rights of patients

Several first aid health care centers had deliberately recorded false information pertaining to patient satisfaction

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The Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) has formed committees in hospitals and various health institutions to protect patients’ rights and smooth relations, al-Hayat Arabic daily reported on Saturday.

The committees are responsible for receiving patients’ complaints and taking action within three days. The committees will then either solve the problems reported by patients or refer them to the ministry.


The latest move by the MOH comes on the heels of a discovery that several first aid health care centers had deliberately recorded false information pertaining to patient satisfaction.

The Jeddah-based head of the General Directorate for Patients’ Rights, Sultan al-Ghamdi, said the ministry began establishing patients’ rights and relations committees in first aid health centers four years ago.

“The committees are not just for receiving complaints. They also have the authority to take consequential decisions. When we receive several complaints against a certain doctor or any practitioner, we issue a warning to him. Further penalties are applied if the complaints continue after the warning such as a salary cut and other punishments,” said al-Ghamdi.

According to al-Ghamdi, most of the complaints received are of patients being mistreated by doctors. “Patients need to be aware that it is their right to receive full medical care in health care centers, good treatment from the medical staff, and full information regarding their diagnosis and medical condition and the doctor’s contact information. No medical decision, surgical or otherwise, should be taken without the signed consent of the patient unless in emergency cases. Moreover, no complaint filed, verbal or written, will negatively affect the relation between the patient and his doctor,” al-Ghamdi said.

He also clarified that health institutes also have rights which the patient must respect. The health institute has the right to be provided any information it requests from the patient and is not responsible for a deterioration in a patient’s health if the patient refuses the medication offered.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Dec. 28, 2014.

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