Your rights and participation as a patient

Your relationship with your doctor involves rights and obligations. Optimum treatment can only be given if a trusting relationship exists. Good relationships work better if both sides know their rights and obligations and are open to each other. 

Find out about your rights as a patient!

Medical treatments – either at the doctors or in hospital – produce better results if there is a relationship of trust between the healthcare professional and the patient. Trust is created if both sides know their rights and obligations and provide frank information. That’s why it’s worth knowing your rights as a patient. It will enable you to play a full, equal and self-determined role in your relationship with your doctors. It’s not about confrontation but about achieving partnership-based interaction between you and your doctor – for your health’s sake.

Note: We cannot offer personal advice. Please refer to the page Options of Counselling and contact the appropriate office. Many thanks.

Patients should be aware not only of their rights, but also of their obligations

A transparent, trusting relationship is the only way to create a therapeutic framework that will make both the disease and its treatment easier to tolerate. It is very much in your own interest to inform healthcare professionals as accurately as possible about your symptoms, the treatment you have had or are receiving and what effect it is having. You must follow healthcare professionals’ instructions and inform them if you have stopped using a prescribed treatment without taking medical advice.

Your rights as a patient – in detail

We have divided your rights into three sections:

  1. Your rights at the doctors and in hospital
  2. Your right to a living will
  3. Your right to counselling

Thank you to Switzerland’s “Latin” cantons

Patients’ rights are based on the work done by the French- and Italian-speaking Cantons of Switzerland. In 2013, the Cantons of Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Jura, Neuchâtel, Ticino, Valais and Vaud joined forces to produce a brochure entitled Patients rights essential information. You can order the brochure free of charge from the Public Health Offices in these cantons. The FOPH would like to thank the brochure's authors and the people responsible for it in the eight French- and Italian-speaking cantons for permission to use the information here.

Report on Patients' rights and participation

The Parliament has repeatedly called for an improvement in the status of patients. The report entitled Patients' rights and participation in Switzerland (available in German and French) provides a detailed overview of the situation.

Your Rights at the Doctors and in Hospital

Obtaining information, choosing a healthcare professional and care facility, treatments without consent, professional secrecy, accessing your patient record and support.

Your Right to a Living Will

Any person who is capable of judgement may draw up a living will. How must a living will be formulated in order to be binding? What happens if no living will exists?

Your Options of Counselling

If problems arise, you have the right to seek advice. If you are unable to reach agreement with your doctor or hospital, advice agencies are available. The addresses can be found here.

Last modification 02.06.2022

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