Patient Rights may be legal rights. These are well defined rights actionable against specified parties that should be respected with no limitations as to the providers’ resources. The patient has a right of appeal to a Court or similar authority if they are not respected. If violation occurs, compensation and/or sanction can be imposed. One good model here is the Dutch law on medical treatment that has served as an example for other EU Member States. This is sometimes also called the ‘civil law’ approach or ‘horizontal’ approach of protecting patient rights.
Patient rights may be quasi legal rights. These are mainly obligations imposed on physicians and other healthcare providers often formulated as rights of patients, for instance in a legally binding code of medical deontology. In Nordic countries patient rights belong to this category. This is also called the ‘public law’ approach or ‘vertical’ approach because the patient has no avenue for direct action against the healthcare provider.
Patient rights may be embedded in non-legally binding documents such as patient charters and non-binding codes of medical deontology. These “rights” are mainly moral in character.