Patients possess the right to make a complaint related to medical service at the medical service provider or at the medical service providing facility. The medical service provider or the medical service providing facility is obliged to investigate the patient’s complaint, and with the result of the investigation, inform the patient in a written statement at the earliest possible time but no later than 30 workdays.
The patients’ right to make a complaint to the medical service provider does not interfere with their right to make a complaint to other – legally designated – authorities as well. The medical service provider must inform the patient regarding this right.
The details and regulations of complaint investigation must be included and made available in the medical service provider’s policy. The medical service provider has to run a registry on complaints and documents related to investigation must be stored for five years.
Patients can turn to the following authorities with their complaints (aside from the medical service provider and the medical service providing facility):
- National Public Health Centre (Nemzeti Népegészségügyi Központ, NNK): this institution deals with medical issues primarily. NNK conducts a professional supervisory investigation and informs the complainant about the result.
- Hungarian Chamber of Medical Doctors (Magyar Orvosi Kamara, MOK) and Hungarian Chamber of Health Care Professionals (Magyar Egészségügyi Szakdolgozói Kamara, MESZK): in case of emerging ethical issues related to health care professionals the regional ethical committees of these organizations may be contacted.
- Regional court by civil lawsuit: in private law procedures the complainants can make their complaint about the service provider. The court may ascertain the liability of the facility and obligate the facility to pay compensation.
The patient representative (by legislation) represents the patients, protects their rights and helps them to recognize and enforce their rights. The patient representative’s scope of activities, however, does not solely include patient complaints. For details on patient rights, read the related articles.
Patient representatives are independent of the medical service providing facilities and they perform their duties by territorial designation. They must treat the patient’s information confidential, according to the applying acts. Medical service providing facilities are obliged to indicate the name and contact information of the designated patient representative.
The patient representatives’ main field of activities:
- help patients to make their complaints;
- initiates the investigation of the complaint;
- help patients to receive their medical records;
- assist patients to express their remarks and questions.
With the written authorization of the patient (or if their health condition indicates, the patients’ relative) the patient representatives can make a complaint at the head of the medical service provider or at the medical service providing facility, and represent the patient at the designated authorities in cases regarding their medical care,
Patient representatives are available for everyone availing the services of authorized medical service providing facilities in primary care, in- and outpatient-care and other health care service providing institutions, including private institutions as well.
Patient representatives have the right to the followings (by paying attention not to interfere with the continuous medical care provision):
- enter the medical service provider’s work area;
- get access to the applying medical records;
- ask questions from the healthcare employees.
Patient representatives are obliged to:
- handle the patients’ private, medical information confidential;
- handle the patients’ personal data according to the applying acts;
- if they notice any infringement or deficiency regarding the work of a medical service providing facility, they have to draw the attention of the head of the facility to the infringement and they can suggest a solution to the problem,
- pay distinct attention to the legal protection of those with physical or mental disability, or of those who are vulnerable because of their age or socio-economical status,
- regularly inform health care employees about patient rights and their application.
Patient representatives are employees of the Integrated Right Protection Service (IJSZ, Integrált Jogvédelmi Szolgálat). The contacts of the patient representatives are available on the website of the IJSZ (see below) and the websites and advertising leaflets of the medical service providing facilities (e.g. hospitals, clinics, outpatient departments and GP offices).
Integrated Right Protection Service (IJSZ)
The Integrated Right Protection Service (in Hungarian: Integrált Jogvédelmi Szolgálat, IJSZ) is responsible for the enforcement and protection of the legally set out rights of patients, children and others receiving health care service. IJSZ has tasks related to the employment of legal representatives, operates the network of legal representatives and organizes and controls their professional work.
Furthermore, IJSZ promotes patient rights among citizens and health care employees, and foster the enforcement of patient rights in the everyday life of medical care.
The patient or the complainant can contact directly the territorially designated patient representative or the center of the IJSZ.
How to contact IJSZ
Patient representatives: http://www.ijsz.hu/kepviselok1.html
IJSZ center: + 36-1-8969-000
Green number: +36-80-620-055
The process of legal remedy
The patient representative listens to the patient’s complaint, considers which of the legal protection processes could be effective as a legal remedy. They inform the patient about the legal remedy possibilities and gives their advice about the suspected most effective process. The patient decides themselves which process they choose to avail. Most of the time, it is also possible to choose a higher-level legal remedy that is out of the scope of the patient representative.
If the complainant chooses the legal institution of the patient representative, the legal complaint has to be considered as a personal case where the patient officially makes a complaint. The patient representative helps the complainant to formulate their complaint.
The patient representative draws the attention of the head and the maintainer of the medical service provider to the trespassing event. During the process, they report the deficiencies and make their suggestions for their elimination. According to the legislation, the medical service provider has to respond to the patient representative’s request within 15 days, and they have 30 days for the investigation of the complaint or deficiency and inform the patient representative about the result.
If necessary, the patient representative can request the help of professional authorities in the evaluation of the complaint. In this case, a professional-chief physician’s opinion is requested. Their aim is to determine whether the disputed medical service was implemented complying with the current health care acts, professional directives and protocols.