Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
What Are Patient Rights?
Ask a Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Legal Advice
It’s important to know what your rights are when you find yourself relying on the care and expertise of a medical professional. Any kind of health condition or treatment can be stressful and frightening. It can help to know what protections are in place to prevent medical malpractice from occurring. Medical malpractice occurs when a health care professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or surgeon, or health care facility, such as a clinic, hospital, or emergency room, does not exercise a proper standard of care. This can result in the serious injury or death of a patient. Failing to adhere to and honor patient rights can indicate that medical malpractice is at play.
If you or a loved one have suffered due to a violation of patient rights, medical malpractice, or both, contact a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your situation and see what options are available to you for recovery. While federal laws certainly exist to protect patients from harm, some states may have additional legislation in place to protect patients from rights violations.
According to the American Medical Association, there are a variety of patient rights that physicians are required to respect and uphold. However, patients also have their own responsibilities to healthcare professionals, including seeking care as necessary and being entirely honest regarding their condition. Upholding responsibilities as a patient and respecting the rights of patients as a healthcare professional are both necessary for creating the most effective care plan to help patients recover as quickly and effectively as possible.
Let’s go over some patient rights, according to the American Medical Association:
- The right to courtesy, respect, dignity, and timely, responsive attention to their needs.
- The right to receive information from their physicians and the opportunity to discuss the benefits, risks, and costs of appropriate treatment alternatives.
- The right to ask questions about their health status or recommended treatment when they do not fully understand what has been described; to have their questions answered.
- The right to make decisions regarding physician recommendations and to have those decisions respected. A patient who has decision-making capacity may accept or refuse any recommended medical intervention.
- The right to have medical staff respect the patient’s privacy and confidentiality.
- The right to obtain copies of their medical records.
- The right to a second opinion.
- The right to be advised of any conflicts of interest their physician may have in respect to their care.
- The right to continuity of care. Physicians should cooperate in coordinating medically indicated care with other healthcare professionals. Physicians should not discontinue treating patients when further treatment is medically indicated without giving sufficient notice.
Who is Responsible for a Patient Rights Violation?
Any healthcare professional could be liable for violating a patient's right. However, in some instances, there could be multiple parties involved. For example, if a patient requests a copy of their medical records and a doctor refuses because hospital management told them to, both parties could be liable for the violation. Other parties that could be responsible for patient rights violations can include:
- Individual providers: Healthcare professionals including anesthesiologists, cardiologists, dermatologist, gastroenterologist, gynecologist, neonatologist neurologists, neurosurgeons, nurses, obstetricians, oncologists, ophthalmologists, orthopedic surgeons, pediatricians, pharmacologists, pharmacists, physicians assistants, plastic surgeons, radiologists, urogynecologist, urologist, vascular surgeons, and more may be responsible for violating a patient’s rights. Additionally, more than one provider could be responsible.
- Hospitals/Healthcare/Medical Facilities. When a hospital hires medical staff, they are responsible for making sure they only hire applicants with sufficient training and experience. They are also required to enforce the upholding of patient rights. If a hospital does not hold its staff accountable to respect patient rights, or knowingly violates a patient’s rights, they could be responsible and subject to legal action. This does not only apply to hospitals. Any kind of healthcare or medical facility could be guilty of violating a patient’s rights.
- Healthcare/medical clinics. Health maintenance organizations. Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) are a kind of alternative to traditional health insurance which may offer a lower monthly premium and has its own specific network of medical providers. If an HMO released a patient’s information without consent, this could be considered a violation of patient rights.
Do You Have a Claim for a Patient Rights Violation?
If you suspect that your rights as a patient might have been violated, contact a medical malpractice attorney to assess the viability of your case. Some damages which could potentially be collected in a patient rights violation case include:
- Medical expenses. Injuries resulting from or made worse by a patient rights violation could be compensable.
- Lost wages (or impairment of earning capacity) as a result of hospital stay-time, or, for the loved one of a patient rights or medical malpractice victim, the necessity to temporarily or permanently extricate themselves from work in order to provide care.
- Life care expenses, such as life support or ongoing medical expenses for chronic injuries.
- Vocational rehabilitation.
- Pain and suffering, for both emotional and physical distress.
- Loss of consortium (the services of a close family member) and loss of care and companionship.
- Wrongful death.
- Funeral expenses.
If you or a loved one has been injured or suffered otherwise due to a patient rights violation, contact a medical malpractice attorney to learn more about your situation and what an attorney can do for you.