Patients Rights

Patients Rights And Responsibilities In South Africa

In South Africa, patients’ rights and responsibilities are enshrined in the National Patients Charter, part of the National Health Charter and aligned with the Bill of Rights as set out in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act No 108 of 1996). 

The National Health Charter serves as a benchmark to ensure patients’ rights of access to quality health care services and to be treated with dignity and respect, and a patient’s rights include the right to:

  • A healthy and safe environment.
  • Participation in decision-making.
  • Access to health care services which include:
    • Receiving timely emergency care;
    • Treatment and rehabilitation;
    • Provision for special needs;
    • Counselling;
    • Palliative care;
    • A positive disposition; and
    • Health information.
  • Knowledge of one’s own health insurance / medical aid scheme.
  • Choice of health services.
  • Be treated by a named health care provider.
  • Confidentiality and privacy.
  • Informed consent.
  • Refusal of treatment.
  • Be referred for a second opinion.
  • Continuity of care.
  • Complain about health services.

Along with the above patients’ rights, each patient is required to exercise the following responsibilities:

  • To take care of his or her health.
  • To care for and protect the environment.
  • To respect the rights of other patients and health providers.
  • To utilise the health care system properly and not abuse it.
  • To know his or her local health service and what they offer.
  • To provide health care providers with the relevant and accurate information for diagnostic, treatment, rehabilitation or counselling purposes.
  • To advise the health care providers on his or her wishes with regard to his or her death.
  • To comply with the prescribed treatment or rehabilitation procedures.
  • To enquire about the related costs of the treatment and / or rehabilitation and arrange for payment.
  • To take care of health records in his or her possession.

For more information on patients’ rights and responsibilities and for sound medical-legal advice, contact medical law specialists, Adele van der Walt Attorneys today.


For more information on this subject, please give us a call at 012 460 3668 (SA) or e-mail us at

Medical Law