Patient Rights & Responsibilities
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As a healthcare patient, you have the right to:
- Be informed about the care you will receive
- Receive all information about your care, in your language
- Make decisions about your care, including refusing care
- Know the names of the caregivers who are treating you
- Safe healthcare
- Have your pain treated
- Know when something goes wrong with your care
- Get an up-to-date list of all your current medications
- Be listened to
- Be treated with courtesy and respect
- Receive considerate and respectful care
- Be well informed about your illness, possible treatments and likely outcome, and the right to discuss this information with your doctor
- Know the names and roles of people treating you
- Consent to or refuse a treatment, as permitted by law, throughout your hospital stay, and if you refuse a recommended treatment, you will receive other necessary and available care
- Expect that a family member or representative and your physician will be notified promptly of your admission to the hospital
- Have your pain assessed and managed when admitted, and throughout your hospitalization
- Have an advance directive such as a living will or healthcare proxy-documents that expresses your choices regarding future care or that names someone to make decisions if you cannot speak for yourself — and if so, you should provide copies to the hospital, your doctor, and your family
- Know that your privacy will be protected as much as possible by the hospital, your doctor, and others caring for you
- Expect that treatment records are confidential unless you have given permission to release information or reporting is required or permitted by law; and that when the hospital releases records to others, such as insurers, it emphasizes that the records are confidential
- Review your medical records and to have the information explained, except when restricted by law
- Access an internal grievance process and also to appeal to an external agency
- Receive care in a safe setting, free from abuse or harassment
- Expect that the hospital will give you necessary health services to the best of its ability; that treatment, referral, or transfer may be recommended and you will be informed of the risks, benefits, and alternatives; and that you will not be transferred until the other institution agrees to accept you
- Know if your hospital has relationships with outside parties that may influence your treatment and care, such as relationships that may be with educational institutions, other health care providers or insurers
- Consent or decline to take part in research affecting your care, and if you choose not to take part, that you will receive the most effective care the hospital otherwise provides
- Be free from restraints or seclusion imposed as a means of coercion, discipline, convenience, or retaliation by staff
- Be told of realistic care alternatives when hospital care is no longer appropriate
- Know about hospital rules that affect you and your treatment and about charges and payment methods
- Know about hospital resources, such as patient representatives or ethics committees, that can help you resolve problems and questions around your hospital stay and care
In addition to understanding these rights, it is important to ask your medical provider or facility for written information about your rights as a patient.
As a healthcare patient, you have a responsibility to:
- Be honest about matters that relate to you as a patient
- Attempt to understand your problems
- Provide medical staff with accurate and complete information about present complaints, past illnesses, hospitalizations, medications and other matters pertaining to your health
- Report any perceived risks in your care or unexpected changes in your condition, to those responsible for your care and welfare
- Follow the care, service or treatment plan developed
- Ask questions when you do not understand or have concerns about your plan of care
- Inform the staff of your pain management needs and to report changes in any those needs
- Understand the consequences of the treatment alternatives and of not following your plan of care
- Ask questions when you do not understand information or instructions
- Tell your doctor if you believe you cannot follow through with your treatment
- Be considerate of the needs of other patients, staff and the hospital
- Provide insurance information and work with the hospital to arrange payment, when needed
- Recognize the effect of lifestyle on your personal health
- Your health and well-being if the recommended treatment is not followed or is refused
What is “informed consent?”
Informed consent means that your healthcare providers have talked to you about your treatment and its risks, as well as about options to treatment and what can happen if you are not treated.
What happens if something goes wrong during treatment or with my care?
If something goes wrong, you have a right to an explanation and that the explanation should be made in a reasonable amount of time.
What should I ask my doctor?
- What is the test for?
- How many times have you performed this test?
- When will I get the results?
- Why do I need this surgery?
- Are there any alternatives to surgery?
- What are the possible complications?
- Which hospital is best for my needs?
- How do you spell the name of that drug?
- Are there any side effects?
- Will this medicine interact with medicines that I’m already taking?
Doctor’s opinions vary based on their experiences and specialty. If you are not comfortable with a doctor’s diagnosis, treatment, and/or recommended plan of care seek out other opinions. This will strengthen your ability to make a sound decision about your medical care. Always be active in your care by asking the doctor about the advantages and disadvantages of every procedure. The following list of websites will aid you in becoming active in your healthcare.
Health Information Websites
The National Women’s Health Information Center, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, includes health information specifically for women.
Men’s Health provides information on reproduction, addiction, sexually transmitted diseases, and fatherhood.
CDC Health Topics includes an exhaustive list of infectious diseases which the CDC studies.
National Cancer Institute lists many cancer topics including treatment, prevention and coping techniques.
Agency for Healthcare research and Quality offers full text quality medical information.
American Heart Association is devoted to disease prevention and has an index on heart diseases and conditions, as well as full text articles and government statistics on both adults and children.
Medline Plus is an extensive online medical encyclopedia.
Quality Check offers information on how various accredited hospitals and nursing homes rate within a range of patient care, from treating addiction to offering vocational rehabilitation. The site also offers the organization’s Quality Report which determines how they rate on medical errors and quality of care among many other topics.
The Health Library at Stanford Streaming Video Collection offers videos covering a wide variety of health-related issues.
Combined Health Information Database includes titles, abstracts and links to locate health information and health education resources with both simple and detailed search options.
New York Online Access to Health, developed by four New York library associations, provides accessible health information to the public.
NIH Health Information Page provides a general overview on hundreds of health subjects.
Mayo Clinic where medical experts and web publishers bring the latest health related information.
National Library of Medicine includes links to health related sites, resources and databases that you can use to research health conditions and diseases.
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