Working with my healthcare team

Patients, carers and their families play an important part in ensuring the best healthcare is received. Better healthcare results if you work proactively with your health professionals.  Here is some information that might help.

What are my healthcare rights?

The Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights outlines the rights of patients and consumers when seeking or receiving healthcare. The Charter was developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality and endorsed by Australian Health Ministers for use across Australia.  It applies to all health settings including public hospitals, private hospitals, general practice and other community health settings. It allows patients, families, carers and service providers to have a common understanding of the rights of people receiving healthcare.

What questions should I ask?  Can someone help me with my questions and getting the help I need?

Health Consumers Queensland developed a handbook, Getting the Healthcare you need, to help patients, carers and families think about the questions they should ask their doctor and how they can go about getting the help they need. It is also available in a pocket-version.

    The Victorian Quality Council has some useful Talking with your Doctor information and videos that offer advice on preparing for an appointment, talking with your doctor, asking questions and making decisions with your doctor.

    It is important to get information along your health journey. This ensures that you always provide informed consent to your medical treatments. Informed consent also ensures that you understand the benefits and risks associated with your treatment.

    What is informed consent?

    Informed consent is an agreement or process where you are provided with all the relevant information to support your agreement (or not) to a medical treatment. Informed consent it given when:

    - a doctor or specialist has informed you about all your options,
    - you are aware of all the benefits and any risks associated with the treatment,  and
    - your doctor or specialist supports you in making a decision about your care. 
    Informed consent also includes informed financial consent which means you understand how much a medical treatment is going to cost you. 

    A useful resource to help consumers gain informed consent can be found at http://www.chf.org.au/pdfs/chf/Diagnostic-imaging-… and this video also offers information about informed consent.

    A transcript of this video is available at http://ourhealth.org.au/sites/default/files/docs/transcriptinformedconsent.pdf

    ABC’s The CheckOut have also worked with CHF to raise the importance of informed consent in this video.

    Choosing Wisely Australia also has useful resources about talking to your doctor about your treatment. Visit www.choosingwisely.org.au

    What can I do when things go wrong?

    Most hospitals and healthcare agencies want to know if you think that you have not received appropriate care so that they can look into any problems and improve their services. If you are not happy with their response, contact the Complaints Commission in your state or territory:

    Concerns about Aged Care services can be directed to the Aged Care Complaints Scheme.

    Complaints about Private Heatlh Insurance can be directed to the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman.

    Where do I find more information on my healthcare professionals?

    The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme regulates fourteen health professions, including:
    medical practitioners, nurses and midwives, optometrists, osteopaths, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists, chiropractors, dental practitioners (including dentists, dental hygienists, dental prosthetists & dental therapists),  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, Chinese medicine practitioners, medical radiation practitioners and occupational therapists.
    You can find out if your doctor or health professional is registered, or make a notification of concern about their conduct, performance or health with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

    Where do I find more information about clinical trials?

    The Australian Clinical Trial Website provides information on clinical trials, a facility to search for clinical trials and information on how to become involved in a clinical trial. The website is supported by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education and the National Health and Medical Research Council and provides information for consumers, researchers and industry.

    Do you know of other useful information and links that help patients, carers and families work better with their healthcare team?  Share them with us and talk about your ideas on improving the way consumers and health professionals can work together in our ‘Have a say’ forum.