Your Healthcare Rights
Everyone who is seeking or receiving care in the South Australian health system has rights about their care.
Patients, consumers, carers, healthcare providers and health service organisations all have an important part to play in achieving healthcare rights and contributing to safe, high quality healthcare.
To learn more about your Healthcare Rights, go to:
Resources to help you understand your healthcare rights:
- For everyone: My Healthcare Rights poster
- For children: Kids – My Rights Colouring-in Book
- For young people: Teens – Know your Rights Card
- For LGBTIQA+ communities: Me and My Doctor (Youth Pride Network)
- For Cultural and Linguistically Diverse Communities: Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights (second edition) translations
- Information and support to help you understand safe and high-quality health care
Learn more about your rights
Access – the right to access healthcare services and treatment that meet your needs
Choose your treatment
WCHN supports Choosing Wisely, an international initiative that aims to reduce unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures. It draws on the expertise of Australia’s peak medical bodies to develop lists of the tests, treatments, medicines and procedures where evidence shows they provide no benefit and, in some cases, lead to harm.
We encourage all patients and families who use our services to ask five key questions:
- Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?
- What are the risks?
- Are there simpler, safer options?
- What happens if I don’t do anything?
- What are the costs?
With the complexity of tests, treatments, and procedures available to modern medicine, the challenge is that not all add value. Some are made redundant as others take their place. Unnecessary practices are a diversion away from effective care. They often lead to more frequent and invasive investigations that can expose the consumer to undue risk of harm, emotional stress, or financial cost.
By working together with your clinician and actively questioning the use of tests and procedures, we can develop the best possible health plan for you.
Respect – the right to receive healthcare that recognises and respects your culture, identity and beliefs
We are committed to a person and family centered care approach to health service planning, delivery and evaluation. Person and family centred care is healthcare that is respectful of, and responsive to, the preferences, needs and values of consumers, their families and the community.
It is widely recognised as a foundation for achieving safe, high-quality healthcare. It contributes to better outcomes and experiences for patients, carers and families.
WCHN’s Person and Family Centred Care Charter identifies four commitments to our consumers, careers and families. We promise to:
- Treat consumers and their family with dignity and respect
- Communicate information clearly and openly
- Actively involve consumers in decision-making
- Be positive and kind.
Partnership – you are supported to share information and ask questions to ensure that you receive the right care
Shared decision-making involves discussion and collaboration between a consumer and their healthcare provider. It is about bringing together the consumer's values, goals and preferences with the best available evidence about benefits, risks and uncertainties of treatment to reach the most appropriate healthcare decisions for that person.
The concept of shared decision-making in healthcare is a key part of the provision of person and family centred care. It helps to think about it in three parts:
- You share what is important to you and ask all of your questions.
- The healthcare provider will listen to the information you provide, and help you to understand your options and choices.
- Together you, your family and the healthcare provider will find common ground and make decisions together.
To help prepare for these conversations before your medical appointment, you can use Question Builder (healthdirect) - a tool to help you think about and prioritise your questions.
Information – You are supported to ask for help when you do not understand what is happening and bring someone with you to your appointments to help understand information
What is Informed Consent?
Consent means agreeing to a procedure or treatment once it has been explained to you. The person explaining the procedure or treatment must tell you why it is needed, what the risks are to you, and what the expected benefit to you is. You also must have the chance to have all your questions answered. Once this has happened, you can make the choice to say yes or no to the procedure or treatment.
Who can give consent?
In South Australia, people who are aged 16 years or older can give consent for a medical procedure or treatment, so long as they can understand what the procedure is going to be, what the risks are, and the expected benefit.
If a person is under 16 years old, then consent is given by parents or a guardian for the young person.
In some cases, the young person may have a special care circumstance. In these cases, there are ways that consent can be given: Department for Child Protection – Who can say OK – Health.
If your capacity to make decisions is impaired and you have an Advance Care Directive (ACD), your substitute decision maker will be able to provide consent on your behalf.
How do you provide consent?
Your consent must be given in writing before all operations, blood transfusions, radiotherapy treatment, examinations under anaesthetic and non-operative procedures of a serious nature. Written consent must also be given for the administration of local, spinal or general anaesthetic procedures.
Questions to ask in order to be informed about procedures and treatments
- What happens during this treatment?
- Why do you suggest this treatment?
- How will this treatment make my condition better?
- How long will I take to recover from this procedure?
- What else could I do to make my condition better? Why aren't these treatments the first choice?
- What can go wrong? How often does this happen? What can be done if it does happen?
- Do you have any information I can read about my condition and the treatment?
Other points to note about informed consent
If you are unsure about the treatment, you can ask to see a different doctor/health care worker for their opinion.
Information sheets about many surgeries and procedures are available for patients and provide explanations in plain language. You can request these from members of staff.
If you need an interpreter to help you to understand what is being said so you can make an informed decision, please ask staff to arrange an interpreter for you.
You can change your mind, and decide not to go ahead with the procedure or treatment. Tell your doctor or healthcare worker if you have changed your mind and they will work with you to develop a new treatment plan.
Please note that in an emergency, urgent treatment can be provided to you/your child without waiting for consent.
Your consent is required to take photographs or make video or audio recordings of you.
For more information, visit the SA Health Consent to medical treatment and healthcare page.
Privacy – Your right to privacy is respected in all places such as hospital wards, community settings and waiting rooms
Giving feedback – the right to provide feedback, make a complaint and share your experience to improve quality of health care
Have your say – feedback
WCHN’s Consumer Experience Audit Survey provides you with an opportunity to let us know about your experience with us, whether it was at the hospital or in one of our community services.
Your response to this survey will help us to work out how well we are delivering person and family centred care, and identify areas for improvement. It provides you with the opportunity to let us know what was good or not so good about your experience.
You can also download a printable PDF version of the survey.
- Complaints and Compliments
- Information, tools and resources to help support consumers engagement with, and understanding of, safe and high-quality health care (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care)