Know Your Rights as a Patient
As a patient, you are entitled to certain rights within the healthcare system. These rights stem from the ethical practice of medicine and basic human rights. Below are some of the rights you should keep in mind as a patient.
The Right to Be Treated with Respect
Regardless of a patient’s age, religion, race, financial status, or health challenges. All patients should expect to be treated with respect and without discrimination.
The Right to Obtain Your Medical Records
Having access to your medical records can help you make the most informed decision about your healthcare. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Patients have the right to access their medical record, apart from psychotherapy notes (Your medical records, 2020). A patient may also designate a personal representative access to their medical record. Your provider may charge for copying your medical records, but they cannot withhold your medical records from you.
The Right to Privacy of Your Medical Records
HIPPA also outlines who, besides yourself may access your medical records. The Privacy Rule sets rules and limits on who can receive and look at your health information. Your health information cannot be used or shared without your written permission unless the law allows for it. Examples of where your healthcare information can be used and shared are: coordination of care and treatment, to make required reports to the police, and to protect the public’s health; such as reporting flu cases in your area (Your rights under HIPAA, 2020).
The Right to Make a Treatment Choice or Refuse Treatment
As long as a patient is deemed capable of making their own decision, they have the right to make their own choice regarding medical treatments, even if that means refusing treatment. It is also the patient’s right to know about all the options they have available. This right allows patients to make an informed decision about their healthcare. Remember that you know your body better than anyone else, be your own advocate.
The Right to Informed Consent
This right requires your healthcare provider to provide information about the risks, benefits, and alternatives of a treatment, test, or procedure before it is performed. This is typically a document that your provider will have you sign, stating that they had gone over all the information with you. Youdo not have to sign the document until you understand why something is being done, and what could possibly happen. If you have questions, ask your provider to clarify any information.
If you feel like your patient rights have been denied or violated, you can file a complaint with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Under HIPAA, an entity cannot retaliate against you for filing a complaint. In the event of retaliation, you should notify the HHS’s Office for Civil Rights immediately (U.S. department of health and Human services office for civil Rights Complaint portal assistant).
US Department of Health and Human Services. (2020, November 2). Your rights under HIPAA. HHS.gov. https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/guidance-materials-for-consumers/index.html.
US Department of Health and Human Services. (2020, November 2). Your medical records. HHS.gov. https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/medical-records/index.html.
U.S. department of health and Human services office for civil Rights Complaint portal assistant. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services - Office for Civil Rights. (n.d.). https://ocrportal.hhs.gov/ocr/smartscreen/main.jsf.