The Netherlands is one of the pioneer countries when it concerns patient rights. The rights of patients have acquired their place in the Dutch legal system by the codification of the general rights of the patient in the Act on the medical treatment contract of 1 April 1995, as part of the Dutch civil code. The main purpose of the Act is to clarify and strengthen the legal position of the patient.
Because of the clear structure of this Act, several countries – such as Lithuania and Estonia - have based their Patient Rights Act on the Dutch Medical Contract Act.
The scope of the legal provisions on patient rights also extends to medical actions that are not performed in the frame of a contract in as far as the nature of the situation allows for the application of the provisions.