Multilevel governance framework on grievance redressal for patient rights violations in India

M. Putturaj*, S. Van Belle, N. Engel, B. Criel, A. Krumeich, P.B. Nagendrappa, P.N. Srinivas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


The notion of patient rights encompasses the obligations of the state and healthcare providers to respect the dignity, autonomy and equality of care-seeking individuals in healthcare processes. Functional patient grievance redressal systems are key to ensuring that the rights of individuals seeking healthcare are protected. We critically examined the published literature from high-income and upper-middle-income countries to establish an analytical framework on grievance redressal for patient rights violations in health facilities. We then used lawsuits on patient rights violations from the Supreme Court of India to analyse the relevance of the developed framework to the Indian context. With market perspectives pervading the health sector, there is an increasing trend of adopting a consumerist approach to protecting patient rights. In this line, avenues for grievance redressal for patient rights violations are gaining traction. Some of the methods and instruments for patient rights implementation include charters, ombudsmen, tribunals, health professional councils, separating rules for redressal and professional liability in patient rights violations, blame-free reporting systems, direct community monitoring and the court system. The grievance redressal mechanisms for patient rights violations in health facilities showcase multilevel governance arrangements with overlapping decision-making units at the national and subnational levels. The privileged position of medical professionals in multilevel governance arrangements for grievance redressal puts care-seeking individuals at a disadvantaged position during dispute resolution processes. Inclusion of external structures in health services and the healthcare profession and laypersons in the grievance redressal processes is heavily contested. Normatively speaking, a patient grievance redressal system should be accessible, impartial and independent in its function, possess the required competence, have adequate authority, seek continuous quality improvement, offer feedback to the health system and be comprehensive and integrated within the larger healthcare regulatory architecture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1470-1482
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Policy and Planning
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Multilevel governance
  • patient rights implementation
  • healthcare facilities
  • critical interpretive synthesis
  • CARE
  • BILL


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