What are my rights as a patient?

(NC) Ontario has more than 300,000 practising healthcare professionals, which are governed by health regulators called colleges. The colleges enforce standards, like how a provider should relate to patients and how providers should work with one another.

The colleges protect the public by holding their members accountable for their conduct and practice — whether it's a doctor treating you in a clinic or a lab technologist performing tests on your samples. It is the job of health regulators to ensure that you are treated with skill and fairness when you receive healthcare in Ontario.

Here is what you can do to protect the rights you are entitled to as a patient:

Take an active part in your care. It is your right to ask questions and get clear answers about your health issues and treatment options.

Have an open discussion of costs and fees. Your healthcare provider should explain anything you are paying for.

Give informed consent. After getting all the information you need, you can agree to or refuse any procedure, for any reason at any time.

Get a second opinion. You have the right to seek advice from another healthcare professional on any issue that pertains to your health.

Have your privacy protected. The personal health information you disclose to your healthcare providers stays confidential. You have the right to view and get a copy of your own information.

You can check your healthcare professional's record through their regulatory college. Each college has a public register that you can search on their website. The registers list things like the qualifications of each member, where and what they are allowed to practise, and if limits have been put on their practice because of professional misconduct.

You can give feedback about healthcare you receive from any provider in Ontario and make formal complaints to the healthcare provider's college. Find more information at www.ontariohealthregulators.ca.