Since 2002, Belgium has had a law relating to patient rights. This specifies the characteristics of the relationship between the patient and the professional practitioner and aims to improve the quality of healthcare services. 

The patient has seven rights: 

The right to benefit from quality services 

The patient has the right to quality care based on available medical knowledge and technology without any distinction based on social affiliation, sexual orientation and philosophical conviction. 

The right to freely choose the professional practitioner 

The patient has the freedom to choose the professional practitioner who will treat him or her but also to modify this choice. This right is, however, not absolute: it can be limited by an emergency situation or by the organisation within a hospital (e.g. during the presence of a single specialist in the hospital). 

The right to be informed about your state of health 

The patient has the right to obtain the necessary information allowing him to understand his state of health and its progress. This information must be communicated in a clear and understandable manner. However, if the practitioner considers that this information could have a harmful effect for the patient, and under certain conditions, he may decide not to transmit the information. 

The patient can designate a trusted person to assist them and to receive information relating to their state of health. 

The patient can refuse to be informed about his state of health. However, the practitioner has the obligation to inform the patient if this lack of information risks harming their health. 

The right to freely consent to healthcare 

The patient must receive sufficient information to enable him or her to give informed consent to the proposed intervention or treatment. (This information concerns the purpose, nature, degree of urgency, duration, frequency, contra-indications, side effects, risks, medical monitoring after the intervention, possible alternatives, financial consequences and the consequences of refusing treatment) 

The patient can refuse to give consent or withdraw it; he or she must then be informed of the consequences of this decision. 

However, in the event of an emergency, when it is impossible to discern the patient's wishes, the healthcare provider can perform all necessary interventions in the patient's interest. 

The right to have a medical record 

The patient has the right to have an updated file, to make a copy of it and to consult it within a reasonable time. Only the service provider's personal notes as well as data concerning third-parties will remain confidential. 

In the event of the patient's death, and if the patient did not object during his or her lifetime, certain relatives who can provide valid reasons may designate a practitioner who will consult the deceased's file. 

The right to protection of privacy 

Information related to the patient's health cannot be disclosed to third-parties unless there is a legal exemption and the need to protect public health (e.g. in the event of a risk of contamination). 

Likewise, unless the patient agrees, only people whose presence is justified may be present during care. 

The right to mediation 

If the patient considers that one of his rights is not respected, he can lodge a complaint with the mediation department of the hospital concerned or mental health consultation platforms in the context of a hospitalisation. The list and contact details of the mediators of these departments are available on the website If the complaint concerns a healthcare provider working outside the hospital, the patient can contact the federal “Patient’s Rights” mediation department. 

Le droit patient

Contact the Patient Rights structure 

Federal Public Department (SPF) Public Health 

Food Chain Safety and Environment 

Avenue Galilée 5/2 

1210 Brussels 

Tel. +32 2 524 85 21 

email :