As a patient, you have the right to be kept fully informed about your illness and treatment.
This information should cover for instance:
- what you are suffering from;
- which medically sound forms of treatment are available;
- what complications and side effects an examination or treatment may involve;
- which options are available for pre- vention and care;
- what the consequences may be if you do not wish to receive treatment.
You also have the right to decline such information.
Information for young people
If you are aged between 15 and 18, you have the right to be informed in person about your illness and treatment. Usually, your parents should also receive this information, but a decision on how much they will be told will be made based on your individual situation. This will include considerations regarding the everity of your illness, the type of treatment and your level of maturity as well as any need to follow up treatment in your home.
As a patient, it is up to you to decide whether an examination or treatment should go ahead – even if only one course of treatment is available. If there are any changes to your treatment, or if new information becomes available, you are entitled to receive updated information. Once again, you must give your consent for the treatment to be continued or changed. You may withdraw your consent at any time.
However, in case of an immediate lifethreatening need for treatment, a doctor or another health professional may examine and treat you without your prior consent – for instance if you are unconscious and therefore unable to give your consent.
Consent to treatment of children
As parents, you are given the option, in consultation with staff, to decide which treatment is best for your child. Almost any type of treatment and examination is put to you as a proposition, and your decision should be based on information and dialogue.
Therefore, you are encouraged to ask questions regarding the consequences of the treatment as well as anything you are not sure about.
Consent by young people
If you are aged between 15 and 18, you have the right to make your own decisions, and you must give your own consent.
However, your parents must also be involved in your decision. If you are unable to understand the full consequences of your decision, the person who is your custodial parent must decide on your behalf. It is up to the healthcare professional to assess
whether or not you yourself are able to appreciate the situation.
Consent by next of kin
If a person is permanently unable to give his or her consent, for instance in certain cases of severe dementia, another person must receive information on the patient’s health and make decisions on behalf of the patient. Still, the patient must be involved as much as possible
in making decisions on the course of examination and treatment.
In such cases, the representative is usually the patient’s next of kin – this could be their co-habiting spouse or partner, children or other relatives. However, there is no requirement for this person to be a relative or family member; anyone else who is particularly close to the patient may be considered as well. The healthcare professional in charge will assess each situation in this respect.
Any employee in the Danish public sector has a duty of confidentiality with regard to any personal and health-related information obtained in the course of their work. This usually means that any information you provide on such issues must not be passed on to others. This rule applies to all healthcare professionals, including those who are self- employed or privately employed such as GPs and physiotherapists.
However, if you are undergoing treatment that requires you to be treated by more than one person or at different locations, it applies that any necessary information about your health status may be passed on to those persons who will be providing your further treatment. This is also the case if you receive continuous treatment provided by your own doctor. You have the right to object to information being passed on.
Because of the duty of confidentiality, as next of kin you are only entitled to receive information about the health of another person, e.g. your spouse, if that person has given their consent to such disclosure.
Information may be passed to other parties, e.g. other authorities, insurance providers etc., provided that:
- you have given your written consent that certain information may be passed on;
- this is required by law or
- this is deemed necessary in order to safeguard the welfare of yourself or others.
Electronic information about your health
Any doctor, midwife, nurse, social and healthcare assistant or radiographer who is involved in your treatment is entitled to retrieve information from electronic systems about your health status and other confidential information, provided this is required in relation to your treatment.
Other healthcare professionals have a similar right; this, however, is limited to retrieving electronic information from the department with which you are associated. This information, which will be treated in confidence, may be used for instance in the training of junior doctors or as part of efforts to improve the quality of hospital services.
You have the right to insist that no electronic information about you shall be retrieved during your treatment.
Your medical records must contain all significant information about the reason for you seeking medical assistance, your diagnosis, the course of your illness, your prescribed medication, the results of any examinations and the course of any operations.
Information about your treatment and your consent to this treatment must also be included in your records. You can ask the person who provides your treatment to let you view your records or give you a copy to keep.
A healthcare professional can help you interpret the contents of your records if you so wish.
Your right to access your medical records only applies if you are aged 15 years or over. Other people are not allowed to view your records without your permission. As a general rule, however, parents are allowed to view the records of children below the age of 18, whereas other closely related people, e.g. married couples, do not have an immediate right to view each other’s records.
If you have made a request to view (gain access to) your medical records, you are entitled to receive a reply within 7 working days.
E-journal (electronic records)
Information in your medical records related to any course or courses of treatment provided in hospital or by the mental health service will be transferred to your electronic records, the E-journal. This service offers you the general opportunity to access information and keep track of your treatment.
Your E-journal is available at www.sundhed.dk. Click on ‘Se din journal fra sygehuset’ (View your hospital records). You can log on to this service with your NemID digital signature.
Following a death, next of kin may approach the hospital to receive information on the course of illness, the cause of death and the manner of passing. This is the case provided that the deceased did not express any objection to the disclosure of such information.
Patient responsible doctor (Patientansvarlig læge)
Patient responsible doctor (in Danish Patientansvarlig læge) is a term used about the doctor with the overall responsibility for a patient's treatment.
The patient responsible doctor is an offer for patients with a special need for coordination and
The Patient responsible doctor is for you who:
- are being examined or treated in different departments and/or hospitals
- have more than one disease
- is often in the hospital or is hospitalized for a
longer period of time
- is in a prolonged course of treatment due to
difficulties in finding the right diagnose or
ways to treat you
- suffer from complications in connection with
your chronic illness
- have cancer
The purpose of having a patient responsible doctor is for you as a patient to experience a connecting thread throughout your course of treatment. Your patient responsible doctor will have the overall responsibility of your clinical course.
Throughout your course of treatment you will meet other doctors, who will be responsible for your treatment. If major decisions are to be made about your treatment, your patient responsible doctor will be involved.
By drawing up a living will while you are fit and well, you can make sure that doctors will respect your wishes with regard to treatment if you become terminally ill and unable to tell them what you want.
However, as long as you are fully conscious and able to express your wishes in person, these are the wishes doctors must respect.
Therefore, a living will does not become effective until a time when doctors and next of kin can no longer communicate with you.
Contents of a living will
In a living will, you must select whether or not you wish to receive treatment if death is inevitable and the treatment will only help to extend your life.
You are given the option to decline any life-sustaining treatment in a situation where you are incapacitated, and where there is no hope for improvement. A living will is not an instrument of euthanasia.
How to make a living will
If you have a digital signature (NemID) you can draw up a living will via www.sundhed.dk
If you do not have a digital signature (NemID) you can draw up a living will by filling in a form, which is attached to the leaflet Behandlingstestamente (living will). The completed form is sent to the Living Will Register:
Ørestads Boulevard 5
2300 København S
You can always revoke a living will. The will can be revoked in several ways:
- by writing a letter to the Living Will Register
- by expressing this verbally to a healthcare professional
- by electronic revocation to the Living Will Register via www.sundhed.dk, if you have a digital signature (NemID).
In Denmark, organs are only used for transplantation with the permission of a patient or their next of kin. Any person aged 18 years or above is entitled to decide whether or not they will allow their organs to be used for transplantation in case of brain death.
If you have not made up your mind, or if you have not expressed your wishes either in writing or by telling someone, your next of kin must make the decision in a given situation.
There are three ways for you to express your wishes:
- tell your next of kin how you feel about this;
- fill in a donor card;
- join The Donor Register (Donorregistret). You can join The Donor Register at www.sundhed.dk
You can read more about this in the leaflet Organdonor, available from your local chemist, library or hospital.
The National Agency for Patients Complaints (Styrelsen for Patientklager)
The Danish Agency for Patient Complaints is an independent and impartial authority that receives all types of complaints. You can complain about your course of treatment or if you feel that your rights as a patient during admission, according to law, have been violated.
Next of kin may file a complaint on behalf of the deceased. Complaints about treatment processes and complaints about non-compliance with patient rights are dealt with in the Danish Agency for Patient Complaints.Complaints regarding individual healthcare professionals' professional work are decided by the Health Service's Disciplinary Board, which is part of the Board of Patient Complaints.
For more information on your options for complaining, please visit the website of the Agency for Patient Complaints on www.stpk.dk
Time limits and process
There is a time limit of 2 years for filing a complaint. This means, that the complaint must be submitted no more than 2 years after the time when you first suspected, or ought to have suspected, any possible malpractice. When complaining about a decision on patient rights (e.g. waiting times), a deadline of 4 weeks is given from the decision is made.
Within 4 weeks of having submitted a complaint, you will be invited to enter into dialogue with the hospital. This option is offered to you as a service which aims to clarify the questions raised in your complaint. The dialogue may be conducted by telephone, letter or email or in a face-to-face meeting. You are welcome to bring a relative or any other person into this dialogue. When the dialogue has taken place, you must then decide whether or not you wish to uphold your complaint.
If you need help filing a complaint
If you need help in making a complaint, please contact the hospital, the Patient Office for Region Syddanmark (Region of Southern Denmark), or make a direct inquiry to the Danish Agency for Patient Complaints.
If you wish to submit a complaint, you will need to use a special Complaints Form. This form is available from the hospital and The Regional Patient Office. Addresses and phone numbers are listed at the back of this booklet.
The Danish Agency for Patient Complaints and The Disciplinary Board of the National Health Services are not able to award compensation.
This is the remit of The Patient Compensation Association (Patienterstatningen). For further information, please see '9. Compensation'.
Complaints about hospital service
Service-related complaints are complaints about the conduct of staff, physical premises, service levels, meals etc. during admission or outpatient visit to the hospital.
Your complaint should be submitted to any of the following:
- the management of the department you have been in contact with
- the management at the hospital in question
- The Patient Office for Region Syddanmark
Remember to include your name, address, telephone number or email address for further contact.
As a patient or next of kin, you are entitled to report an adverse event that has occurred at the hospital. An adverse event is any event that was not scheduled to happen and which for some reason did not happen according to expectations. Because of certain safety measures being inadequate or flawed, this led to a patient being injured or put at risk of injury.
As a patient or next of kin, you are often the first to notice when something is about to go wrong, or when an error arises. By learning from past experience, the hospital can prevent this from happening again. It is therefore important for the hospital to be made aware of any errors or adverse events.
On www.dpsd.dk you will find an official form for writing a report on an adverse event. Full instructions are included with this form.
For further information on how to report adverse events, please go to www.stps.dk
Compensation for injury caused by treatment
If you suffer physical injury in connection with any examination or treatment performed at a hospital in Denmark, you are entitled to seek compensation from The Patient Insurance Association (Patienterstatningen).
Patients who are referred by a public sector hospital to receive treatment in a private hospital or clinic in Denmark or abroad are also entitled to seek compensation from The Patient Insurance Association.
Likewise, you are entitled to seek compensation if you have suffered an accident during treatment at the hospital, provided that this accident occurred on hospital premises. However, this only applies if the hospital can be made liable for damages arising from such an accident according to the general rules of the law of torts.
You cannot be awarded compensation purely because the result of a treatment failed to meet your expectations.
You must report any injury no more than 3 years from when you became aware of the injury, and no more than 10 years from when the injury occurred.
Separate rules apply to organ donors and healthy test subjects.
Compensation for injury caused by medication Denmark has a special compensation scheme for patients suffering physical injury as a result of using medication. This compensation scheme applies to cases of physical injury caused by medication dispensed to the patient. You cannot be awarded compensation for any injury resulting from the medication not being effective against your illness.
You must report an injury caused by medication no more than 3 years from when you became aware of the injury.
If you wish to seek compensation, you must notify The Patient Compensation Association of your injury by using an official Notification Form. This form is available from the hospital and the Patient Office for Region Syddanmark, or by download from pebl.dk.
Information on waiting times
Information on waiting times for the treatment of specific illnesses may be found on www.venteinfo.dk, provided by the Danish Ministry of Health, or by speaking to a Patient Advisor. Speak to your doctor about your choice of hospital, and let him or her advise you on your choice. This is the best way to ensure a satisfactory solution.
Your doctor must refer you to your hospital of choice. Please note that if your condition deteriorates, your doctor is entitled to decide whether your referral should be changed. The hospital will then be able to bring forward your treatment if this is practically possible.
Maximum waiting times
Life-threatening cancer and heart disease must be treated within a specific 9 time frame. If you have been referred to a hospital that is unable to meet the treatment time guarantee, the hospital
is obliged to use its own powers to refer you to a different hospital in Denmark or abroad.
Using your right to free hospital choice
If you wish to exercise your right to free hospital choice, it is advisable that you choose your preferred hospital prior to your preliminary examination. This is due to the fact that some hospitals will not accept preliminary examinations carried out at a different hospital.
Extended free hospital choice
If you have been referred for treatment at a hospital in your local region, your rights to choose are extended if you have to wait for more than 2 months to receive your actual treatment. In that case, you are entitled to choose to be treated either in private hospitals or clinics in Denmark, or in hospitals abroad which have entered into a special agreement with the Danish regions. Please be aware that the extended rule of free choice only applies to certain types of treatment.
If you have been referred for treatment for a severe illness, your rights to choose are extended already if you have to wait for more than 1 month.
You can read more about this on www.sygehusvalg.dk
As a general rule, you must arrange for transportation to and from the hospital yourself and you must also pay for the transport yourself. However, a number of exceptions apply, which means that in some cases financial aid may be granted for transport or transportation may be offered. Special rules apply for pensioners.
A special booklet has been published regarding transport, Transport til og fra sygehuset ("Transport to and from the hospital"), which elaborates on the rules on transport to and from the hospital as well as the rules for travelling expenses.
For more information, please visit the website of Region Syddanmark.
Transport in connection with free hospital choice
When you have chosen to be treated at a hospital other than the local one, without the doctor's assessment being necessary for the treatment of the disease, you must arrange for transportation yourself and pay for the transportation in whole or in part.
Any subsequent refund will be paid according to the rules for travel allowance to the nearest hospital, which could have done the treatment.
Patient counsellors can be found in the Patient Office in the central office of Region Syddanmark, which is located in the city of Vejle.
The main task of the patient counsellors is to support the patient and provide citizens with information about the healthcare system, including:
- patients' rights
- investigation of misunderstandings
- guidance on complaints and compensation options
- the free hospital choice
- waiting time
Websites with more information
At the website of Region Syddanmark (Region of Southern Denmark) under "Health" you can find a number of information about the different parts of the healthcare system including, your options and rights.
At the website of Sygehus Lillebælt (Lille Baelt Hospital) you will find information about the hospital and its departments including contact information for hospital management, departments, etc.
At the website of the Ministry of Health and Senior Affairs you will find good links to e.g. The National Board of Health's information on medicine and reimbursement of medicine costs.
At Sundhed.dk you will find your own health data, the Patient Handbook, information on organ donation and living wills, overview of the healthcare system in Denmark, contact information for GPs, specialist doctors, dentists or other therapists. You can also find contact information for emergency help, hospital departments, pharmacies etc.
At www.mitsygehusvalg.dk you will find information on waiting times for treatment of selected diseases.
If you have to wait longer than 30 days before being examined or treated, you are entitled to the extended free hospital choice. If you have received a call letter from the hospital, you can visit www.sygehusvalg.dk to see the possibilities of being examined or treated at a private hospital.