Rights and obligations of the patient

In hospital you will encounter many healthcare practitioners. They will provide you with the best care and treatment. However, the hospital staff may also expect you to respect certain rules. 

Rights and obligations of the patient

What can you expect from us? What do we expect from you? What about the ombudsman service?

Clear rules build trust and openness between care providers and patients. This is important to offer you the best care.

Rights: What can you expect from us?

As a patient, you have many rights. In Belgium these rights have been established by law since 2002. You may appoint one or more advisers to help you exercise your rights. If you are no longer capable of personally exercising your rights, then your representative will do so in your place.

Receiving quality service.

All patients are provided with the best possible service commensurate with medical knowledge and available technology. The services are provided while duly respecting the human dignity and autonomy of the patient, without any distinction on the basis of social class, sexual orientation or philosophical conviction.

Being informed on your state of health.

The healthcare practitioner provides the patient with all the information necessary to gain an understanding of his/her health condition and its probable evolution. The healthcare practitioner also indicates recommended behaviour in this respect. The information is provided in a clear language the patient can understand. If necessary, the patient may request an interpreter via the social service of the hospital.

Being assured that your privacy is protected.

During a treatment, only those persons whose presence is professionally required are present. Information relating to the patient’s health may not be communicated to third persons, unless the patient gives permission to do so.

Being free to choose a healthcare practitioner.

The patient chooses the healthcare practitioner and can approach another healthcare practitioner at any point in time.

On the other hand, any healthcare practitioner can refuse to provide a patient with services for personal or practitioner reasons, except in the case of an emergency. If the healthcare practitioner stops providing treatment, (s)he must nevertheless guarantee continuity of care. The patient may consult another doctor for a second opinion if (s)he wishes. 

Having access to your health records.

The healthcare practitioner duly keeps the health records up to date for each patient, which (s)he (the healthcare practitioner) keeps in a safe place. The patient can request the healthcare practitioner to add certain documents to the records (e.g. a scientific article on the illness (s)he is suffering from). The patient can access his/her health records and can request to have a copy against charge. If the patient chooses to have another healthcare practitioner, (s)he can request that his/her health records be transferred in order to guarantee continuity of care.

Consenting freely to an intervention.

A healthcare practitioner must obtain the patient’s free and informed consent, orally or in writing, for treatment before it is started. This means that the healthcare practitioner must have clearly informed the patient of the characteristics of the intended intervention. The patient may also refuse a treatment. In an emergency, when it is impossible to obtain the consent of the patient or his/her representative, the healthcare practitioner carries out all the necessary interventions.

Obligations: what do we expect from you?

In order to receive the best possible medical care, as a patient you must respect certain rules. Clear rules build trust and openness and enable the hospital staff to offer you the best care.

Providing correct information about your identity.

For your protection and that of other patients, you must correctly identify yourself at the hospital. This is necessary to prevent abuse and to avoid information being stored under the wrong name in medical files.

We ask that you present a legal and valid proof of identity, such as your national identity card.

Providing your cooperation.

The care provider is entitled to expect that you will provide full and accurate information on your medication use. Only then can the care provider offer you the best possible treatment. As a patient, it is your obligation to cooperate with the treatment you have accepted. Therefore, carefully follow the advice of your doctor and cooperate with the care providers.

Also, always keep your appointments. If you are unable to attend an appointment due to unexpected circumstances, please notify your doctor as soon as possible.

Paying for your treatment.

The hospital is entitled to receive payment for the care provided. If you make use of the hospital’s medical services, you are responsible for paying the costs. You may be required to make a down payment, as necessary. We make every effort to ensure that you have as little as possible to worry about regarding payment. However, we do require that you bring your insurance information with you to the hospital. You can have a cost simulation calculated for you at the hospital. However, some costs cannot be determined in advance.

When you are admitted, you will also receive a statement listing your choice of room type and the financial terms. Please feel free to ask any questions if you would like more information.

Treating equipment with care.

Take good care of the equipment at the hospital: do not damage it or get it dirty. Also, do not leave equipment lying around and always dispose of rubbish in the bins. Show respect for the work of the cleaning staff and keep the corridors, waiting rooms, toilets and other areas tidy. It’s best to leave valuable personal belongings or large sums of money at home. The hospital cannot be held liable for loss or theft.

Respecting the hospital rules.

As a patient, you must respect your fellow patients’ privacy and their need for peace and quiet. In order to keep the hospital a safe, quiet place, visitors must respect the visiting hours.

Smoking is prohibited throughout the hospital. Smoking is only allowed in the smoking zones outside of the building. Cigarette butts should be disposed of in the ashtrays.

Respecting the care providers.

The interaction between hospital staff, patients and visitors must be based on decency and mutual respect. The hospital is not the place for denigrating or discriminatory remarks, aggressive behaviour or other types of threats.

What if these rules are violated?


If anyone is of the opinion that their rights as a patient have not been respected, they can file a complaint with the competent ombudsman service. The ombudsman listens to your story and provides information. If you cannot solve a problem with your care provider, the ombudsman intermediates.


If you fail to meet your obligations, this may be grounds for stopping your treatment. Cases of aggression or assault will be handled by the police. If you do not pay your bill, an extra penalty fee will be charged and, at a later stage, legal steps will be taken to collect the amount owed. Perhaps you are temporarily unable to meet your obligations. If this is the case, please let our staff know. We will do everything within our power to find a solution.

Ombudsman service

At the ombudsman service you can lodge complaints about your treatment. The ombudsman works independently. 

The mediation service tries to provide the best possible solution for the questions and complaints you have as a patient. Its main task is to encourage communication between the patient and the healthcare practitioner to prevent complaints. If a patient lodges a complaint with the ombudsman service because (s)he is of the opinion that one of his/her rights was not respected, the mediation is an attempt to solve the disagreement with the cooperation of the patient and the healthcare practitioner. If the parties do not come to a solution, the ombudsman informs the complainant of other possibilities to deal with his/her request. 

Complaints can be formulated to the ombudsman in writing (by letter, fax or e-mail) or orally (by telephone, or in person by appointment). 

Contact the ombudsman service

Ombudsperson Miranda Van Looveren is available from Monday to Friday from 10 AM to 4 PM:

  • UZA Ombudsman service, Drie Eikenstraat 655, 2650 Edegem
  • Phone: +32 3 821 31 60
  • Email: ombudsdienst [at] uza [dot] be
  • The ombudsman service is located in the entrance hall of the Antwerp University Hospital, behind the large stairs


A healthy attitude starts with respect for each other.