What are patient responsibilities?

To be effective, health care needs to be a two-way street. If you expect your health care providers to behave in a certain way – for example, to communicate openly – it helps to behave the same way in return. Your hospital or treatment centre might give you information about your responsibilities covering the following three areas.

Learn more about:

Being considerate

These responsibilities relate to practical issues, including:

  • treating staff and other patients with courtesy, dignity and respect
  • being on time for appointments or letting the health service know if you are unable to attend an appointment
  • following any policies about visiting hours, using mobile phones, smoke-free areas, etc.

Being honest and open

A key responsibility is to make sure your treatment team has all the information they need to offer the best treatment for you. Be up-front and provide accurate details about your health. Tell your treatment team if:

  • you have a question or problem – it’s important that you talk about issues you don’t understand or that are troubling you so your team can help
  • there are factors in your life that might affect treatment decisions – for example, if you live alone, if you care for an elderly relative or a young family, or if you work or study
  • you have side effects or pain – your team may be able to adjust the treatment or offer you medicine to relieve side effects 
  • you’re seeing more than one doctor or another health professional for any part of your care – this includes complementary or alternative therapy practitioners
  • you decide not to follow their advice – for example, by not taking the medicine they prescribe
  • you are taking any other medicines – this includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs, complementary and alternative medicines, and bush medicines. Tell your treatment team even if you think the medicine is harmless. Some medicines interact with cancer drugs, causing side effects or reducing the effectiveness of the cancer treatment, and this can be harmful.

Being flexible

Your doctor recommends treatment based on your initial test results and your overall health. Depending on how you respond to the treatment you’ve agreed upon, your doctor may have to reassess the original treatment plan. It’s important to be flexible and to accept that your treatment may change. If changes occur, you still have the right to be involved in making decisions about a new treatment plan.

It’s common to have to wait for tests and treatment in public hospitals. The length of time depends on many factors, including the type of cancer you have, its stage, the treatment you are having, and the hospital’s schedule. Hospitals aim to treat people in turn but without waiting for periods of time that would harm treatment outcomes. Waiting for treatment can be stressful – if you are anxious or concerned speak to your doctor or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

Listen to our podcast on Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on cancer care and your rights

Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059


To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in June 2019
View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum

Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono services, financial and legal assistance, and no interest loans

Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment

Cancer information

What is cancer?
How cancer starts and spreads

Dealing with the diagnosis
Common reactions to a cancer diagnosis and how to find hope

View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends