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As a patient, you have certain basic rights.

1. You have the right to be treated with courtesy and professionalism by all health-care related practitioners and staff. They may not discriminate against you for race, sex, age, sexual orientation, national origin, race, ethnicity, religion, mental or physical disability, rarity of your disease, genetic information, or the source of payment.

2. You have the right to be screened and stabilized by emergency services if you develop severe pain, an injury, or sudden onset of symptoms that make you believe you are in danger.

3. You have the right to have your condition, tests, and treatments explained to you in a way you can understand them or explained to a designated person who can speak for you. You have the right to ask for clarifying information.

4. You have the right to take part in decisions about your care, including the right to ask questions about the risks and benefits of any test or treatment.

5. You have the right to refuse tests or treatments that you feel could worsen your condition. You have the right to stop treatments that worsen your condition and ask for alternatives.

6. Your personal information is stringently guarded by the new HIPAA laws. Your physician can only share information with the doctors or individuals you have designated with written permission.

7. You have the right to read and have a copy of your own medical records including test results. Some are hesitant to give you test results, scans, x-rays, surgical reports, etc. and prefer to send them to other doctors. However, they are legally required to give you a copy. They may charge a fee to do so.

8.  You have the right to request changes to your records if you feel they are not accurate, relevant, or complete.

9. You have the right to a prompt, fair, objective review of complaints regarding your health plan, doctors, hospitals, labs, or other health-related personnel. This includes complaints about waiting times, operating hours, actions of health care professionals, and adequacy of the facilities.

10. You have the right to appeal decisions made by your insurance provider and to ask for and pay for services on your own if you feel they are needed but insurance refuses to pay for them.

Read more about patient rights.

National Health Council

World Health Organization

Center for Medicare and Medicaid

With these rights, come certain responsibilities.

1. Be courteous and professional in your dealings with all medical professionals and their staff, no matter how angry or distressed you are.

2. Be prompt for appointments, even when they are late, and don’t skip appointments. If you have to cancel or change an appointment, don’t wait until the last minute unless it is an emergency situation. Post reminders of your appointments where you will see them at home. Missed appointments can affect refills of your medications.

3. Prepare your information and questions prior to the appointment (which may raise more questions). Give full disclosure of your current condition, progressions, setbacks, etc.

4. Inform your providers if you have not complied with the given treatment plan, have taken medications or supplements other than the medications they prescribe, or have attempted any treatment or therapy outside of your agreed upon course of action.

5. Take down notes about your symptoms and treatments between appointments. You might not remember.

6. Communicate clearly. Take someone along to the appointment if you need help with this or are experiencing memory problems.

7. Write down the information given to you during appointments to refer to later.

8. Give the physician’s office ample time to fulfill a prescription refill request.

9. Alert the staff when making the appointment if you specifically need to see the physician, not a physician assistant or nurse practitioner. Have a good reason.

10. If you deviate from the agreed upon treatment plan, notify the physician’s office. You could have an allergic reaction or unpleasant side effects. You may not like the way the medication makes you feel. Stopping treatment abruptly or not taking medications may make you worse or could be life threatening. It is better to communicate clearly so that a new plan can be formulated.

11. You are in charge of notifying emergency medical professionals about your special needs. You should carry a copy of your medical information, including prescriptions, and emergency medical treatment needs at all times, but especially when you travel away from home.

Forms can be found here.


Getting a Diagnosis   Co-existing Diseases   Differential Diagnoses   Finding a Doctor   Types of Doctors

Patient Rights   Specialty Hospitals & Clinics   Prepare for an Appointment   Patient Forms