Patient's rights

The rights of a patient in social and health care are protected by the law on the patient's status and rights. Central points of the law:
  • The patient has the right to good treatment
  • The patient’s mother tongue, individual needs and culture should be taken into consideration in the treatment. For example, interpreters should be arranged for immigrants living in Finland permanently in order for them to receive the health care they need.
  • The date and time of admittance for the treatment shall be informed to the patient. If the stated date or time changes, the new date and time and the reason for such change shall be immediately informed to the patient.
  • Upon implementation of health care and hospitalisation, a plan concerning the examination, treatment, or pharmaceutical rehabilitation or other corresponding plan shall be written.
  • The patient shall be informed of their state of health, significange of treatment, different treatment alternatives and their effects, as well as of other relevant factors that might affect the determination of treatment.
  • Treatment shall be implemented in mutual understanding with the patient. If the patient refuses a particular treatment or procedure, they shall be treated by means of another medically acceptable manner, if possible, and in mutual understanding with the patient.
  • If an adult patient is unable to decide on his/her treatment due to a mental health disorder, mental disability or other reason, the legal representative, next-of-kin or another family member of the patient shall be consulted before making any important treatment decisions in order to determine what kind of treatment would best correspond to the will of the patient. In case this cannot be determined, the patient shall be treated in a way that is considered to be in the best interest of the patient.
  • The patient has the right to check the information entered into his/her medical records (in Finnish), and rectify incorrect information.
  • The information in the medical records is confidential. Without written permission from the patient, health care professionals or other employees of the health care unit are not allowed to disclose any information contained in the medical records to third parties.
  • A patient who is not satisfied with his/her treatment can send a notification to the institution.
  • Institutions providing treatment shall have a patient ombudsman.

The Mental Health Act determines the rights of the patient, for example, in regards to enforced treatment

Enforced treatment refers to a M1 referral written by a doctor, i.e. admitting the patient to a psychiatric ward, even though the patient would not consider such treatment necessary. Enforced treatment is a very rarely used, last-resort method; it is only used when it can be assumed that the person poses a threat either to himself/herself or to others.

The Mental Health Act states the following on enforced treatment:

“A person may be admitted to a psychiatric ward against his/her will only:

  1. if he/she is found to be mentally ill;
  2. if he/she needs treatment due to mental illness in such a way that failure to be admitted would substantially worsen the mental illness or seriously endanger his/her health or safety, or the health and safety of others; and
  3. if all other mental health services prove to be unsuitable or insufficient.”