Patient Rights in the US Healthcare System


You might not know it but as a patient, you have certain rights. Your rights protect your interests and health.

Several federal and state laws guarantee patient rights. Healthcare facilities might also have a patient bill of rights.

You must be aware of your rights. If there’s an issue, you can use your rights to advocate for high-quality care. Read this article to learn about the rights you have as a patient.

The Right To Treat You With Respect

Your doctor must treat you with respect. Your nurse must also do the same. This is part of providing patient-centered care.

This type of care also calls for treating patients with courtesy and dignity. Healthcare providers must listen to their patients. They must consider their patients’ beliefs, preferences, and values.

All patients are unique individuals. It’s important to consider culture. Aspects of their cultural background should be part of the planning and delivery of care.

This is why healthcare providers must ask questions. They must take the time to get to know each of their patients.

A patient’s socioeconomic status shouldn’t affect how the patient is treated. Patients who don’t have health insurance should be treated with respect. Discrimination isn’t appropriate.

The Right To Obtain Your Medical Records

Do you want to see your medical records? Did you know you have the right to see them? Under the HIPAA of 1996, you can ask to get a copy of your medical records.

Your doctor can’t deny your request. Upon asking for a copy or summary, your doctor will have to show you it within a reasonable period.

Doctors’ notes and the results of diagnostic tests are part of your medical records. Other documentation relevant to your care is also part of the record.

The Right to Privacy of Your Medical Records

You have the right to privacy. You should be the only person who has access to your medical records.

You can allow others to get a copy of your medical records. For example, you can inform your doctor that your spouse should have access to them.

HIPAA outlines who has access to a patient’s medical records. Your healthcare provider must take steps to maintain confidentiality.

There are serious consequences for breaching patient privacy and confidentiality. A patient might have a legal claim against a doctor who breaks confidentiality.

The Right to Receive Informed Consent

Before you undergo a procedure, your physician should seek consent from you. Your physician can’t perform a procedure or test without your permission. You must sign a form giving consent.

It’s the physician’s responsibility to provide the patient with information about the procedure. This includes going over the benefits and risks. Going over alternatives is also a must.

This is all part of the informed consent process. A reputable practitioner will go over this process and answer any questions you might have.

The Right To Make a Treatment Choice

After going through the informed consent process, you have the right to make a treatment choice. If you feel comfortable undergoing a procedure, you can give the green light. If you don’t feel comfortable, you can say ‘no’.

Competent patients have the right to choose. That’s any patient who is of sound mind. If a patient isn’t competent, the patient’s guardian can decide on the patient’s behalf.

The patient will express their choice through writing. There are some exceptions to this specific patient right. Your physician will explain the exceptions to you.

The Right To Make Decisions About End-of-Life Care

It’s never easy having to make decisions about end-of-life care. The reality is that patients and their families must have a frank decision about this life event.

Every state has different laws about end-of-life care decisions. It’s the patient’s right to know about the laws.

In most cases, patients can state in writing their decisions. For example, if a patient doesn’t want to get CPR after a cardiac arrest, the patient can sign a DNR order.

Patients can also state in writing their choice in advance of their death. This is the purpose of an advance directive. The patient can also leave a family member in charge of their end-of-life care.

The decision that a patient makes must be honored. No practitioner can violate a patient’s decision about end-of-life care.

Patient Rights After Death

Did you ever wonder if a patient has rights after passing away? This question might not come to mind, but it’s worth asking.

After a patient’s death, certain rights apply to the person. One of the rights that are still in effect is the right to privacy.

Yes, after death, a person’s personal information must be protected. Healthcare providers must still meet HIPAA compliance.

Consider this part of HIPAA security. It helps the release of a dead person’s personal information to the public.

Want to learn more about how HIPAA applies after death? Read more on this topic by clicking on the link.

Know Your Patient Rights

As a patient, you have several rights. You must know your patient rights. These rights help to protect your health and well-being.

When you receive healthcare services, you must make sure your rights are honored. Your healthcare provider must treat you with respect. You have the right to make healthcare decisions.

If any of your patient rights are violated, you have the right to speak up. You come first as a patient. Looking to read more articles? Explore the rest of our blog for more great articles.