According to Finnish Act on the Status and Rights of Patients (785/1992), an adult patient has the right to participate in decisions regarding his/her own medical treatment. The patient can control who is allowed to have access to information on his/her health and medical care.
If the patient is unable to decide upon his/her medical treatment due to mental disturbance, mental disability or other reason, consent for important medical operations must be requested from his/her legal representative, next of kin or other person closely connected with the patient. If these persons forbid medical treatment or a medical operation, the patient must be treated according to available resources with another medically acceptable manner in agreement with the person denying the initial treatment.
If opinion of the patient’s legal representative, next of kin or other close person cannot be determined, the patient must be treated so that it can be regarded as favourable to the patient’s personal benefit. This is correct procedure also when persons requested to give consent have differentiating opinions.
Persons requested to give consent do not have the right to deny patient medical treatment given to avoid life or health threatening hazard.
A person requested to give consent to medical treatment of the patient has the right to receive necessary information on the patient’s health for making the decision.
If the patient has previously expressed her/his opinion concerning medical treatment and if it can be reliably confirmed, then the patient’s opinion must be followed.
When treating a minor patient and deciding upon a medical treatment, the patient’s opinion must be considered when possible with respect to the patient’s age and level of development. If the minor patient is of such age and level of development that she/he is capable of deciding on his/her medical treatment, then the patient can forbid his/her guardian or other legal representative access to information regarding his/her health and medical treatment.
Information on the health and medical care of a deceased person provided when the person was still living may be given upon a justified written application to anyone who needs the information in order to find out his/her vital interests or rights, to the extent the information is necessary for that purpose; the acquiring party may not use or forward the information for some other purpose.