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Your Patient Rights

Patient Rights

Knowing your rights as a patient is an extremely important part of receiving treatment or services at any healthcare facility. Most hospitals, clinics, surgery centers, and other institutions will provide patients with a written list of promises or guarantees about what the patient deserves and can expect

from that healthcare facility. While this document may just seem like one more piece of paper in the seemingly endless slew of release forms and privacy statements,

it is a document that is worth reading closely. In doing so, it will remind you that, as a patient, you do in fact deserve a high caliber of care and respect as you undergo medical treatment. Whether you are having a major surgery or you are simply getting treatment for a cold, any type of treatment should be administered with the patient's well-being in mind.

The Importance of Education

Reading any patient's bill of rights carefully is an essential part of empowering yourself to make an informed decision about your treatment options. All too often, patients play a passive role or take the "backseat" when it comes to their own health simply because they feel that they do not know as much as a doctor. However, nobody knows your body or your particular health condition as well as you do, so always remember that you have the final say when it comes to the direction that your treatment plan takes. In addition to educating yourself about your rights as a patient, go the extra mile to learn more about your condition, its severity, its causes, and the treatment options that are available to you. Not only will this help you make more informed, confident treatment decisions, but it may even help you have a better outcome or faster recovery.

Your Right to Privacy

A common part of any patient's bill of rights is the right to privacy. As a patient, all of the information regarding your diagnosis and your treatment should remain completely confidential. If there is any breach in a healthcare facility's privacy policy that could potentially compromise your personal information, they are required to notify you as soon as possible. In addition to general privacy rights outlined by a bill of rights, patients should also familiarize themselves with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which outlines privacy standards by which healthcare facilities must adhere.

Your Right to Choose Treatment

Not only is it your right to choose the types of treatments that you feel are best suited to your particular condition, but you also have the right to refuse treatment when you see fit as long as you are informed by the healthcare institution of any negative consequences that could result. Many bills of rights outline that a patient is entitled to an advanced directive about their care. This could take the form of a living will, a "Do Not Resuscitate" order, a healthcare proxy, or another means of determining a treatment plan should the patient become unable to make decisions.

Your Right to Courtesy

The above list of patient rights is by no means exhaustive and the document will likely vary among institutions. However, the one aspect of any bill or rights that should remain constant is a statement regarding a patient's right to be treated with courtesy, respect, and dignity. As healthcare becomes more institutionalized and people are struggling to remain insured, more and more patients are being funneled into massive healthcare institutions. While many of these facilities offer excellent care, there is a risk that patients will not be given personalized, attentive service. Do not be afraid to demand the best care possible. If you ever feel that you are being given subpar service, either in terms of your treatment regimen or simply the way you are treated by staff members, voice your concerns - if the problem isn't remedied in a timely manner, look elsewhere for treatment.

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