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5 Patient Rights: Part 1

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5 Patient Rights: Part 1

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Patient rights

Patient rights

Violation of these basic patient rights may give rise of lawsuits.

1. Right to refuse treatment
A patient may refuse care, medication, or procedures against the medical advice of a doctor. Some patients oppose certain treatments based on religious belief. Others deliberately make choices that lessen the effectiveness of their treatment. For example, diabetic patients may not adhere to their diet or people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease smoke. This is frustrating for many healthcare professionals, who feel powerless and may lose empathy with a patient who is refusing treatment. Healthcare providers may offer information to help the patient see the consequences of refusal of care. If the patient has the capacity to make the decision but still declines treatment, healthcare providers must look for ways to provide care in a way that is acceptable to the patient. This can be a hugely challenging aspect of patient care.

2. Research Studies
A patient may be asked to participate in a clinical trial or research study to determine if a new treatment is more effective than existing ones. The patient should receive information about the risks and benefits of participating in the trial. The patient is still entitled to receive care if he or she decides to refuse to be involved.

3. Visitation
A patient has a right to decide if he or she wants visitors while in a hospital. These individuals need not be related to the patient. For example, same-sex couples may not be discriminated against. A support person may make decisions about visitors if the patient is not able to.

4. Pain management
Pain has been called the fifth vital sign (after temperature, pulse, respirations and blood pressure.) There is a lot of emphasis in health care on assessing patients for pain and reassessing them after pain management techniques are used – to be sure the pain was reduced. Patients have the right to be assessed for pain and to receive medication to reduce their pain. They have the right to request pain medication, or reject it or other options offered to relieve pain. The location and amount of pain a patient has should be clearly documented in the medical record.

5. Transfers
Patients have the right to expect health care professionals to transfer them to a higher level of care if a hospital is not able to meet the patient’s needs for care. The patient has a right to understand why such a transfer is needed, to agree to the transfer, and that the receiving hospital has agreed to accept the patient. Patients and their families also have a right to request a transfer to another setting when they are unhappy with the care they are receiving and believe they will be better cared for in another setting. These requests are often accompanied by dissatisfaction and poor outcomes.

See part 2 for more.

Med League nurses assist attorneys to understand the medical issues of their cases. Contact us for our experienced assistance.

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