KNOW YOUR PATIENT RIGHTS

In Canada,  the Canada Health Act (CHA) of 1984 guides the provisions of universal health care, which is delivered through the provincial and territorial government's Ministry of Health.  Each province and territory is responsible for providing its residents with publicly funded health care insurance and has its own, unique documented Patients' Bill of Rights.  The CHA establishes criteria and conditions related to insured health services and extended health care services that the provinces and territories must fulfill which "protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers," in order to receive the full federal cash contribution under the Canada Health Transfer (CHT).   
Patient’s Bill of Rights is a pathway to implement a best practices approach to all vested parties.  It specifies what is expected from each participant, namely the patient, the physician, and the health care provider.  Unfortunately, many Canadians do not know their rights within their provincial/territorial  health care system.  The goals of having a Patient's Bill of Rights are to:
  1. provide a sense of control for the patient or empower them,
  2. allow for better communication and participation for the patient together with the physician and health care providers,
  3. ensure the patient does not feel dominated by the physician but equal,
  4. allow and aid in the ability to have free discussion on health matters such as testing, diagnosis, and treatment protocols,
  5. outline each participant's role and responsibilities, and
  6. create guidelines of service delivery.
There are two types of rights one must consider when discussing a patient's bill of rights -individual and collective rights. One must understand the difference to best represent ourselves and advocate for our needs.  Individual rights pertain to what a person is entitled to and/or should expect in their experiences.  Examples of individual rights are: 
  • the right to information,
  • the right to know your diagnosis,
  • the right to treatment,
  • the right to privacy and confidentiality.
Collective rights are the rights a population is entitled to as a society.  They are determined by political and social factors.  Collective rights can speak to the broad availability and services that are available.  Examples of collective rights would be as follows:
  • right to access health care
  • right to equal access for health care regardless of geographical areas within Canada
  • right to health care, free of discrimination regardless of gender, race, religion, orientation, and beliefs.
Because fibromyalgia is a complex, multisystemic, chronic, invisible illness, persons with fibromyalgia experience unique medical challenges and needs.  We primarily want to be heard clearly, understood and taken seriously. We want to be treated well and respected in all the aspects of our capabilities and disabilities.  When seeking emergency medical help for out-of-control pain, patients with fibromyalgia have historically been dismissed, and treated with a lack of respect that has shattered their dignity and ability to access treatment.  Many persons with fibromyalgia have also been told by medical professionals that  “it’s all in your head” or “you’re crazy”.
The new  Fibromyalgia Patient's Bill of Rights, crafted by members of the Advocacy Standing Committee, speaks to the basic tenets of the rules of conduct that should occur between the patient and medical/healthcare provider.   It was developed by persons with fibromyalgia who want YOU to feel empowered to  Be Your Own Advocate, feel confident in verbalizing  your needs, and receive better treatment for yourself and loved ones.