Know Your Rights: Patient Advocacy And Consent In The Hospital

Know Your Rights: Patient Advocacy And Consent In The Hospital

The health care system can seem difficult to maneuver through, especially when you’re feeling unwell. Knowing your rights as a patient is empowering to improve service and have your voice heard during your stay in the hospital.

This article is designed to outline your basic rights as a patient and guide you on how, in every possible manner, you can use them to your advantage.

Basic Rights of a Patient While Under Hospital Care

Right to Informed Consent

Informed consent forms the basic rights of the patient. It is the legal and ethical requirement of all healthcare providers that you are told about the nature of a treatment, its risks, benefits, and other possible alternatives to a procedure or treatment before initiating it.

This information has to be presented in a way that a person can understand and be in a position to make a decision about his or her care. Consent has to be voluntary and may be withdrawn at any time.

Right to Privacy and Confidentiality

Your medical information is private, and the law requires that your doctor and other medical staff keep your medical condition confidential. Even so, since the information your doctor has to keep is secret, there are exceptions under which the information can be released, depending on your state.

Right to Receive Care

You have the right to receive care without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and any other characteristic protected by law. This right lays a foundation for you to be treated in a non-discriminatory manner.

Right to Choose or Refuse Treatment

You also have the right to choose or refuse treatment; this is to say that you have the ability to accept or refuse procedures, drugs, or surgery based on your own personal preferences or beliefs, or from the second opinion of another medical professional. Understand what happens if you refuse treatment, and these consequences should be clearly explained to you by the healthcare provider.

This also applies to a person who lacks the capacity to make healthcare decisions in the future. You should help make your healthcare providers and loved ones understand what preferences you would have made in situations whereby you would be unable to communicate your own.

The Role of Patient Advocates

During hospital stays, an advocate for a patient may be of great help. Either a hired professional or a relative, they would ensure all your rights are observed, all your needs are attended to, and, more importantly, your voice is heard. They can also help improve communication between them and healthcare professionals and can help maneuver intricate medical details and come up with a decision based on the considerations made.

Many hospitals offer patient advocacy services. If you don’t have an advocate, many hospitals offer patient advocacy services. Utilizing these services can help alleviate stress and improve your healthcare experience.

Effective Communication With Your Health Care Provider

The key is good communication with your healthcare providers. Here are tips to help you communicate better:

Be Prepared

List down any symptoms or questions you may have before your confrontation. Be clear and concise: It is you who should clearly point out what your trouble, symptom, or question is. Do not feel shy to ask the doctor to slow down or clarify a word or term he or she might use.

Be Assertive

Remember that you have the right to quality care. Being assertive in a polite way will ensure your voice is heard and respected. Establish a partnership with your health professional based on mutual respect and clear communication to better your health’s outcome and help you enjoy a satisfying experience. 

Understanding and exercising your patient rights is fundamental to receiving quality healthcare. Knowing your rights enables you to navigate the healthcare system much better, be an advocate for yourself, and make decisions in a manner more representative of your own interests. Arm yourself with further knowledge of your rights and draw on the help of patient advocates when necessary. You are your best advocate, and your voice is significant when it comes to your own health.