As a person receiving medical care (the patient), you have certain rights. You have a choice about the care you receive or care you do not want to receive. Many of your rights as a patient are guaranteed by federal law and states may have additional laws protecting patients. Healthcare facilities often have a patient bill of rights that outlines your rights while under their care. However, those rights are not always automatically honored and you may need to advocate on your behalf.
In this section, you will learn about:
You Have the Right to Care that Honors your Wishes
With the passing of the The Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) in 1990, the common-law right of self-determination as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution was reaffirmed. This means that as the person receiving care, you have the right to make choices and decisions about the type of medical care and the extent of medical care that you would or would not want. This includes ensuring that your advance directive is followed.
Your Information is Yours
Patient rights can be extensive and can exist between patients, any medical caregivers, hospitals, laboratories, insurers, and others that may have access to patients or their medical records. Information about your care, costs, and other areas related to your treatment or needs is yours by law. There is also an expectation of privacy between parties when discussing that information.
Who Can Help If Your Rights Aren’t Being Honored?
First, speak up to your doctor. Often issues can be dealt with quickly and easily if everyone is willing. If that isn’t satisfactory, most hospitals have patient advocates and/or ombudsmen who can help you if you have problems. Additionally, there are outside groups that can intervene on your behalf.