Patient rights laws and declarations were enacted to provide the patient with some form of reliability and safety when entering a hospital for treatment. However, these laws are sometimes loosely followed, and often there are no penalties for institutions who disregard them even when they are reported. These laws encourage communication, and communication is a safeguard against error. Lack of communication between health care professionals and patients can result in unforeseen consequences or the death of the patient. Make sure you know your rights, and that those taking care of you are following them. If you feel your patient rights are being violated, you may address your concerns with your health care team, or a hospital administrator.
In general, patients have the right to the following declarations:
- The right to have your privacy and the privacy of your medical record protected
- The right to a copy of your medical record
- The right to be informed about your medical status, and the right to participate in your treatment plan. This includes the right to refuse treatment.
- The right to receive informed consent prior to any medical procedure.
- The right to determine your end-of-life preferences by means of an Advanced Directive or MOLST form which are available at any medical institution where you receive treatment.
- These laws and declarations vary from state to state. To find the Patient Rights laws or declarations for your state, generate a computer search for Patient Rights and Responsibilities in (NAMEYOUR STATE HERE).
Patient Responsibilities in the Hospital Setting
- If you see something that you know is wrong say something. Keep repeating it until someone listens to you. If the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction by the treatment team or a patient representative, ask to speak to the administrator on call for the unit on which you or your loved one is a patient.
- Give your health care team your full attention when they are in your room. Their time is limited, and you may miss an opportunity to discuss something important. They may not be back to see you again until the next day.
- Stay informed about your medical status. If you are not provided with an update on your medical status, ask to see the physician assigned to your case. Be assertive. If your physician doesn’t answer your question, or only gives you a partial answer, tell him or her, “You haven’t fully answered my question. I need additional clarification.”
- You should see a member of your treatment team EVERY DAY. If this does not happen, ask to see a physician assigned to your case so that they can explain your medical status and treatment plan before they leave for the day.
- Treat your health care team in the same way you would like to be treated.
- Do not disregard your discharge instructions, and make sure you follow up with recommended appointments after discharge. Your health care providers cannot keep you healthy when you do not follow their instructions.