Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Patients’ Right

July 10, 2022

Patients have expectations regarding the health care services they receive. In 1972, the American Hospital Association (AHA) developed the Patient’s Bill of Rights. Since its inception, the Patient’s Bill of Rights has undergone revisions; the modified version of 2003 is called The Patient Care Partnership: Understand­ing Expectations, Rights, and Responsibilities (see Box 1-1). The AHA encourages health care institutions to adapt the template bill of rights to their particular environments. This involves considering the cultural, religious, linguistic, and educational backgrounds of the population the institution serves. In 1980, the Mental Health Patient’s Bill of Rights and the Pregnant Patient’s Bill of Rights were adopted into law. The goal of the AHA is to promote the public’s understanding of their rights and responsibilities as consumers of health care. Failure of the nurse to embrace the outlined rights of the patient can promote breeches in the relationship between the nurse and the patient.

The Joint Commission is an independent accrediting agency responsible for accrediting and certifying more than 19,000 facilities in the United States. The Joint Commission has developed a brochure titled Know Your Rights, which is a statement on the rights and responsibilities of patients. The Patient Self-Determination Act (included in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, U.S. Code vol. 42, sec. 1395cc[a][1]) regulates any institution that receives federal funding. The Patient Self-Determination Act requires that institutions maintain written policies and procedures regarding advance directives (including the use of life support if the patient is incapaci­tated), the right to accept or refuse treatment, and the right to participate fully in health care–related decisions.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which took effect in 2003, established the duty of the health care provider to protect the confidentiality of all health information. Health care providers who maintain and transmit health care information must provide reasonable and appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards on a patient’s health information. The law sets rules and limits on who has permission to look at and receive health information, and assigns penalties for wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information. All health care providers must be knowledgeable about the HIPAA standards and protect the privacy rights of patients and residents (www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa).

Health care institutions are obligated to uphold the patient’s rights to (1) access to health care without any prejudice, (2) treatment with respect and dignity at all times, (3) privacy and confidentiality, (4) personal safety, and (5) complete information about one’s own condition and treatment.

Patients’ responsibilities to the health care institution include (1) providing accurate information about themselves, (2) giving information regarding their known conditions, and (3) participating in decision making regarding treatment and care.