Know Your Rights About Health Care

Did you know there is a Patient Bill of Rights? The Patient Bill of Rights that was adopted by the U.S. Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry in 1998. Virtually any organization that provide services and bill Medicare and Medical Assistance are required to inform patients of these rights when they start providing services to the individual.

So what does the Patient Bill of Rights say?

Information Disclosure: You have the right to accurate and easily-understood information about your health plan, health care professionals, and health care facilities. If you speak another language, have a physical or mental disability, or just don’t understand something, help should be provided so you can make informed health care decisions.

Choice of Providers and Plans: You have the right to a choice of health care providers who can give you high-quality health care when you need it.

Access to Emergency Services: If you have severe pain, an injury, or sudden illness that makes you believe that your health is in serious danger, you have the right to be screened and stabilized using emergency services. These services should be provided whenever and wherever you need them, without the need to wait for authorization and without any financial penalty.

Participation in Treatment Decisions: You have the right to know your treatment options and to take part in decisions about your care. Parents, guardians, family members, or others that you select can represent you if you cannot make your own decisions.

Respect and Non-discrimination: You have a right to considerate, respectful care from your doctors, health plan representatives, and other health care providers that does not discriminate against you.

Confidentiality of Health Information: You have the right to talk privately with health care providers and to have your health care information protected. You also have the right to read and copy your own medical record. You have the right to ask that your doctor change your record if it is not accurate, relevant, or complete.

Complaints and Appeals: You have the right to a fair, fast, and objective review of any complaint you have against your health plan, doctors, hospitals or other health care personnel. This includes complaints about waiting times, operating hours, the actions of health care personnel, and the adequacy of health care facilities.

Some practical advice to assure that you are adequately informed:

Speak up if you have questions or concerns, ot if you don’t understand information provided to you. It’s your or your loved one’s body and you have a right to know.

Pay attention to the care you or your loved one is receiving. Makre sure you/they are getting the right treatments and medications. Don’t assume anything.

Make sure staff providing care are introducing themselves and you know what their credentials are.

Notice whether or not the staff is washing their hands. Hand washing is the most important way to prevent the spread of infections. Don’t be afraid to gently remind the caregiver.

Be sure the health care professional confirms your/ your loved one’s identity before giving medications or treatments.

Educate yourself about the diagnosis, services provided and the care plan. Gather information. Write down important information the doctor tells you and ask if the doctor has any written information you can take with you to look at later.

Thoroughly read all forms and make sure you understand them before you sign anything. If you don’t understand something, ask for a better explanation.

Make sure you understand how to use any equipment the doctor orders for your care, especially if you are to continue to use it once you are home.

Know the medications and why they are prescribed. Ask about the purpose and ask for written information which can be provided by the pharmacy. Know both the brand and generic names of the medications. Know the possible side effects to watch out for.

Whenever a new medication is prescribed, tell the doctor about any allergies and other medications prescribed to be sure that it is safe to also take the new medication.

Ask for a list of providers for services recommended. The hospital or nursing facility should not automatically assign providers for on-going care. You get to choose who you want for continuing care needs.

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