Patient rights

The general patient rights are provided in the Law of Obligations Act
According to this, a health service is provided under contract concluded between the health service provider and the patient. Health care service provided must meet a minimum level of general medical service at the time of provision, and it must be provided by due diligence normally expected from the health care service provider. If necessary, the health care provider must refer the patient to a medical specialist or involve a medical specialist.

A patient shall inform the provider of health care services of all circumstances which, according to his or her best understanding, are necessary for the provision of health care services and shall provide any assistance which the provider of health care services requires to perform the contract.
A patient may be examined and health care services may be provided to him or her only with his or her consent. A patient may withdraw his or her consent within a reasonable period of time after granting consent. At the request of a provider of health care services, such consent or an application to withdraw such consent shall be in a format which can be reproduced in writing.

The provider of health care services:

1) shall inform the patient of the results of examination of the patient, the state of his or her health, any possible illnesses and the development thereof, the nature and purpose of the health care services provided, the risks and consequences associated with the provision of such health care services and of other available and necessary health care services. At the request of the patient, the provider of health care services shall submit the specified information in a format which can be reproduced in writing;
2) as a rule, shall not promise that a patient will recover or that an operation will be successful;
3) shall maintain the confidentiality of information regarding the identity of patients and their state of health which has become known to them in the course of providing health care services or performing their official duties;
4) shall document the provision of health care services to each patient pursuant to the requirements and shall preserve the corresponding documents. The patient has the right to examine these documents and to obtain copies thereof at his or her own expense.

One of the alternatives for examining documents is the patient portal established by the Estonian eHealth Foundation. This work is based on a nationwide health information system, which shall collect the Estonia's health-related data. Patient portal can be used to access the patient's health records in the information system, to provide additional data and change one's personal information. When desired, a person can also close down their health records. Patient records can be viewed only by a physician who treats him or her. In addition to the above, the patient portal can be used for a variety of health services-related expressions of will. For example, to determine person(s) authorized to purchase prescription drugs; to give permission to or refuse a blood transfusion; to express a wish to donate organs or tissues after death for transplantation purposes; to donate one's dead body to teaching and research work. Patient Portal also allows the patient to appoint themselves representative(s) with various rights.

Patient portal can be accessed here.

According to the Health Services Organisation Act every person in the territory of the Republic of Estonia has the right to receive emergency care, which the health care professionals are required to provide within the limits of their competence and with the means available.
Emergency care is provided on outpatient basis (by the emergency medical care) and in specialized care by departments of emergency medicine (visitation fee up to 5 EUR). Family physicians also provide emergency care to persons who live or are temporarily staying in their service area, but are not registered in the practice list of family physician.

According to the Health Insurance Act, the patient has the right to second opinion, if he or she has doubts about the doctor’s decision. The second opinion concerns the assessment of the correctness of a diagnosis, the need for a medicinal product or health service, the alternatives and expected effect and the risks relating to the provision of the service. The correct procedure for receiving second opinion, its conditions and extent to which the health insurance fund pays for second opinion is provided in Regulation No. 111 of 24 September 2002 by the Minister of Social Affairs "Eesti Haigekassa poolt kindlustatud isikult teisese arvamuse eest tasu maksmise kohustuse ülevõtmise tingimused ja kord" (Estonian only).