Occ health: patient versus occupational health client


According to the National Health Act (Act 61 of 2003) a patient is a “user” who receives treatment at a health establishment. The Act also describes a “user” as the person’s spouse or partner, parent or guardian, grandparent or adult brother or sister or another person authorised by law, in that order of priority

This implies that the occupational file should contain the closest relative, in order to contact them in case of an emergency

The occupational health establishment is a health establishment and although the employees are treated as customers they are also managed as patients. The same degree of confidentiality and consent is utilised, as would be for sick patients. Primary care in occupational health clinics occasionally deal with sick employees (patients). Sickness is frequently detected during medical surveillance, making the patient not fit for work and necessitating referral to other health care facilities

Just as patients, employees at occupational health clinics also have rights under the Patient Rights Charter to
1) healthy and safe environment (e.g. protection from facility-acquired infection)
2) The right to make decisions concerning their health
3) Access to health care
4) Knowledge concerning their medical aid schemes
5) Choice of health services
6) Treated by a named health care provider
7) Medical confidentiality and privacy
8) Not to be treated without informed consent
9) Refuse treatment
10) Obtain a second opinion
11) Provided continuity of care
12) Right to complain about health services; complaints must be investigated

The National Patients’ Rights Charter also makes provision for patient responsibilities, namely
1) To take care of their health
2) To take care of and protect the environment
3) Respect the rights of other patients, health workers and health care providers
4) To not abuse and unnecessarily over-utilise health care services
5) Know their local services
6) To give accurate information to health care workers concerning their medical conditions
7) To advise health care workers of their wishes concerning death
8) To comply with treatment and rehabilitation
9) Enquire about cost and payment arrangements
10) To take care of health records in their possession