“There is no specific law regulating patients’ rights in Sweden, as opposed to in other Nordic countries. Instead, different rights for patients, such as patient choice or the right to information, are incorporated in other legislation and are formulated in policy agreements between the state and the county councils through the SALAR. Regulations are mainly targeted at the behaviour of personnel and only indirectly at patients’ rights. For instance, personnel are obliged to provide individually tailored information but patients have no articulated right to receive such information (Winblad & Ringard 2009). In March 2001, however, the government appointed a committee of inquiry with the task of investigating how to strengthen the patients’ position and influence over care and develop a proposal for a new patients’ act (Ministry of Health and Social Affairs 2011). Preliminary results are to be delivered in June 2012 and a final proposition no later than in January 2013. The proposal should include how to:
– provide health care on equal terms for the population;
– increase and strengthen patient choice;
– improve access to information and advice;
– encourage different government agencies to go about strengthening the patient’s position; and
– enhance better exchange of information between the patient and the caregiver.
“The basic principle of health care provision in Sweden is that everyone has the same right to good quality care. The 1982 Health and Medical Services Act defines the county councils’ responsibility to provide all their citizens with high-quality health care services. There are several different bodies sharing the task of safeguarding patients’ interests in receiving adequate and safe health care. In 1999, patients’ rights in the health care system were further strengthened when the county councils’ obligations towards them were increased through a change in the Act. According to the revised Act, the health care system is responsible for strengthening the position of the patient through individualized information, opportunities to choose between alternative treatments and the right to a second opinion, when suffering from a life-threatening or other particularly serious disease or injury.
“Moreover, every county council and municipality must have a patients’ committee. The committees should support and help individual patients and contribute to quality development in the health care system by helping patients to get the information they need to safeguard their interests, promoting contact between patients and health care personnel, helping patients to get in touch with the appropriate agency and reporting to care providers and care units any observations and irregularities of significance to patients.”
Source: Anell A, Glenngård AH, Merkur S. Sweden: Health system review. Health Systems in Transition, 2012, 14(5):1–159.