- You as a patient have the right to be actively involved in your care and make an informed decision as to procedures, treatment option and withholding of treatment. Make sure you understand what treatment or procedure you are receiving before signing the consent form.
- If you are unsure of the explanation you are receiving ask for a second opinion
- You have the right to expect that your privacy will be respected and that your medical and personal information will be protected. Your privacy rights have been codified in a Federal law known as HIPPA.
- Refusal of extraordinary care or resuscitation efforts are documented in a form called a DNR (do not resuscitate) form.
- You should fill out a living will and appoint a health care proxy before entering the hospital
- Make sure your health care proxy explicitly understands your wishes and can be trusted to exercise them if you are incapacitated.
- Many of these rights are spelled out in a document called the Patient Bill of Rights which should be on prominent display in all hospitals
- You have a right to see and receive a copy of your chart
The patient has the right to control what they do and what is done to their body. Patients are taking more control over their medical care and making their own, often complex, choices involving their health and related issues. The patient’s decisions may be influenced by their religious beliefs, ideology, or personality and may not always follow the doctor’s primary recommendation. You have the right to make bad medical decisions, so make sure you have all possible information.
What are my rights at the hospital or doctor’s office?
Patient rights are listed prominently in every hospital and doctor’s office. You should become familiar with them, and speak up if you don’t think they are being respected. Here are a few with which you should be familiar before any medical treatment:
- The medical staff must explain your condition and your treatment options completely and understandably;
- If you do not agree with any of the treatment options, you can ask for a second opinion;
- If you do not agree with your discharge date, you may ask them to review it;
- As a patient you have the right to refuse any and all treatment, but in order to do so you will have to complete a form stating your refusal;
- No one can pressure you into an experimental study.
What is informed consent?
You must understand and agree to any medical or surgical treatments before they are performed. Your doctor must give you a full description of the procedure, the reasons it is being performed, alternative procedures, expected results and any risks involved. After the explanation of the procedure and your agreement to it, you or your legal guardian will sign a consent form stating that you understand the procedure. Consent is required for all major and most minor procedures.
Remember, even after signing a consent form, You can change your mind at any time, right up until the moment of surgery.
What is a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order?
When a patient suffers a cardiac or respiratory arrest, a team of physicians and nurses normally springs into action in an effort to save the patient’s life. The DNR lets hospital staff know that, in this situation, you do not want them to use equipment or perform other procedures to prolong your life.
It is important to know that you can be kept alive with a pacemaker, dialysis machine and other medical equipment. The typical patient requesting a DNR has an incurable or inoperable condition such as advanced cancer, or a damaged heart, lungs, or kidneys. These people may be in constant pain, incapacitated, and chronically hospitalized. If you do not have a DNR form signed, the medical staff will automatically assume that you want any and all life saving procedures performed in an emergency situation.
For patients who have not let their wishes be known in advance (see “Living Will” below) or who are unable to sign a DNR because they are incapacitated, a family member, usually a spouse may sign the DNR. Sometimes during an emergency, DNR orders are accidentally overlooked and measures are taken to prolong the person’s life. There are no specific rules to follow when this occurs.
Should I create a Living Will?
When creating a Living Will you may want to discuss your wishes with your doctor, prior to documenting them. Try to make your wishes as clear and comprehensive as possible. Do-it-Yourself Kits for creating a Living Will are available or you can Draft them with an Attorney.
Leave your family and physicians some wiggle room, and avoid using words like never. Most experienced medical personnel will understand and respect your wishes and will do their best to provide you the best combination of care or no care depending on your precise medical situation. You should keep a copy of your living will at your doctor’s office, and another with your regular will.
What is a Health Care Proxy?
Upon admission, many hospitals request that you designate someone to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. You can choose anyone to be your proxy—a sibling, loved one or a family friend, for example. This is potentially one of the most important decisions you will make in your life, so choose carefully. It must be someone that you trust to act in your best interest; someone who would respect your decisions regarding what to do in an emergency or end-of-life situation. You must discuss your wishes in detail with your Health Care Proxy so they are clear as to what you want..Leave a reply →