Did you know that as a Patient, you have a Bill of Rights, afforded to you under your Government? It’s true! There are certain obligations your government has committed to meeting when it comes to your health care and I decided it was a good time to share those with you, as well as to write-up a set of Rights that we have as Patients for our Doctors, Nurses and other Medical Professionals. Are you ready?
Canadian Patients’ Bill of Rights*:
- You have the right to be fully informed about one’s medical condition;
- You have the right to be advised of the available treatment options;
- You have the right to be involved in treatment decisions;
- You have the right to information on the qualifications and experience of the health professionals from whom services are received;
- You have the right to receive considerate, compassionate and respectful public health services;
- You have the right to confidential communications with health professionals;
- You have the right to have access to and copies of personal health records and to have them corrected, if necessary;
- You have the right to have health records kept confidential and not used for any purpose other than public health services without written consent;
- You have the right to designate a person to exercise rights on the patient’s behalf if the patient is not able to do so because of a physical or mental incapacity; and
- You have the right to be informed of all rights and responsibilities under the bill and under other laws of Canada or a province with respect to public health services.
American Patients’ Bill of Rights**:
- You have the right to receive accurate and easily understood information about your health plan, health care professionals, and health care facilities. If you speak another language, have a physical or mental disability, or just don’t understand something, assistance will be provided so you can make informed health care decisions.
- You have the right to a choice of health care providers that is sufficient to provide you with access to appropriate high-quality health care.
- If you have severe pain, an injury, or sudden illness that convinces you that your health is in serious jeopardy, you have the right to receive screening and stabilization emergency services whenever and wherever needed, without prior authorization or financial penalty.
- You have the right to know all your treatment options and to participate in decisions about your care. Parents, guardians, family members, or other individuals that you designate can represent you if you cannot make your own decisions.
- You have a right to considerate, respectful and non-discriminatory care from your doctors, health plan representatives, and other health care providers.
- You have the right to talk in confidence with health care providers and to have your health care information protected. You also have the right to review and copy your own medical record and request that your physician amend your record if it is not accurate, relevant, or complete.
- You have the right to a fair, fast, and objective review of any compliant you have against your health plan, doctors, hospitals or other health care personnel. This includes complaints about waiting times, operating hours, the conduct of health care personnel, and the adequacy of health care facilities.
I’ve not done the Rights for other countries as most of my traffic comes from North America, but I’m sure a simple Google search using your country and “Patient Bill of Rights” would turn up something similar. I think this is good information for all of us to have and it’s all very reasonable.
Now the list for us as Patients:
- You have the obligation to treat your doctor and other medical personnel with respect.
- Be organized when you go to see your doctor – know the questions you need to ask and understand your doctor is limited to one or two concerns at a time. If you have more than that to talk about, book a double appointment. Don’t be an “oh, by the way” Patient.
- If you need refills of your prescriptions, let the office know when you’re making your appointment. This way, they can schedule that into the time you spend with the Doctor.
- Bring along a family member or trusted friend to help translate for you if English is not your first language. Don’t let translation issues cause your appointment to run overtime. The same goes for the hearing impaired – bring a sign language interpreter with you if needed.
- Find out what the policy is for missed or cancelled appointments with your doctor. Most cancellations given within 24 hours are fine, but if you need to cancel with short notice, you may have to pay for the full cost of the appointment. Every office varies, so know in advance what your obligations are.
- Be honest. Tell your doctor if you’re using recreational drugs – it can make a difference in regards to the prescriptions they need to write or tests they need to run.
- Speak up if you don’t understand something the doctor says. You have a right to clear and concise information so if you’re not sure of what the doctor is saying, ask for clarification. There’s no sense going home and then having to call the doctor’s office to ask what he meant. Your time in the office is your chance to have everything explained properly. If you feel your doctor is being dismissive of your symptoms, you have the right to ask for a second opinion.
What do you think of the Patient list? Is there anything you think is wrong? Is there anything missing that should be added? Tell me in the comments below.
Remember, we have as much of an obligation to be good Patients as our Doctors and Nurses et al do to be good practitioners of medicine. It’s a two-way street and only by working together will we be able to form a Patient Centred Care Team where those practitioners are working with us in partnership for our best health.
There is always hope.