When you go to the doctor, it’s normal to have the right to make decisions about your care or medical treatment. This wasn’t always the case. In the early 1970s, the American Hospital Association (AHA) adopted a patient’s bill of rights to give patients confidence in the US healthcare system.
A patient’s bill of rights encourages patients to take an active role in their health and puts patients in control of their medical care. It gives the right to decide and consent to treatment options, the right to change hospitals, and even the right to refuse treatment.
Here are 15 things to know about a patient’s bill of rights.
What Is the Patient’s Bill of Rights?
The AHA Patient’s Bill of Rights is a necessary regulation that governs how patients are treated. For example, it covers respectful care, open discussions about diagnosis, fees, and treatment options, and ensures that patients receive adequate care.
The American Hospital Association created its first Patient’s Bill of Rights in 1973 to encourage patients to participate in their healthcare activities and ensure that patients received unbiased treatment. The AHA patient’s bill of rights consists of 15 assurances that apply to anyone who asks for medical care in an American hospital.
This bill also protects patients or healthy individuals who participate in clinical trials. The focus is on patient respect, disclosure of risk or benefits, and choice.
This bill of rights underwent revision in 1992. In 2003, the AHA updated the Patient’s Bill of Rights to the Patient Care Partnership. In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) created a new legal Patient Bill of Rights that offered protection for patients when they interact with health insurance companies.
Today, patients at a US hospital can expect to receive:
- Top-quality care
- A safe and clean hospital environment
- A guarantee that you have a voice in your care
- Privacy protection
- Assistance when exiting the hospital
- Assistance with insurance or billing claims
One thing to keep in mind is that no single law or Patient’s Bill of Rights outlines patient care in the US. Instead, many documents and versions of patient care guidelines with similar themes vary across different institutions.
15 Things to Know About a Patient’s Bill of Rights
When you receive medical care or treatment at a US hospital, these are the patient rights that the American Hospital Association guarantees you:
- The Right to Respectful Treatment
- The Right to Obtain Current, Relevant, and Comprehensible Information About Diagnosis, Treatment Options, and Prognosis
- The Right to Understand and Discuss Treatment Benefits, Risks, and Available Medical Alternatives
- The Right to Identify the Doctors, Nurses, Residents, Trainees, Students, and Other People Involved in Their Care
- The Right to Know Current and Future Financial Implications from Medical Treatments
- The Right to Choose Your Treatment Before and During Care or to Refuse Treatment
- The Right for Informed Consent
- The Right to Make a Living Will, Healthcare Proxy, or Advance Directive to Carry Out the Patient’s Intent on Their Behalf
- The Right to Privacy and Confidential Healthcare Records
- The Right to Access Medical Records
- The Right to Request Medically Appropriate Treatment or Services and the Right to Transfer to Another Facility
- The Right to Know What Business Relationships Exist Between a Hospital, Healthcare Provider, or Other Institution and How This May Affect Care
- The Right to Agree to or Reject Participation in a Research Study with a Guarantee of Effective and Continuous Hospital Care
- The Right to Learn About Institution Policies and Practices that Involve Patient Treatment, Care, Ethics Committees, Patient Representatives, Dispute Resolution, Charges, and Payment Methods
- The Right to Decide About End-of-Life Care