Did you know that you have certain rights as a patient? In the United States, some, like the right to obtain copies of your medical records, are covered under a federal law known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This Act also includes the right to keep your health information private. However, many states have their own individual laws to protect patients. Health care facilities also tend to have patients’ bills of rights.
Your rights under HIPAA
According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, HIPAA gives patients rights over their health information. This includes the right to get a copy of your information, make sure it is correct, and know who has seen it. You can ask to see your medical records or get a copy of them. For copies, you may have to make a written request and you will usually get your records within 30 days.
If you notice that details on your file are wrong or some information is missing, you have the right to ask for changes to be made. For example, if you believe test results or the type of procedure performed are recorded incorrectly you can draw this to the attention of your health care provider. Even if they believe their records are right, your disagreement should be noted on your file.
You should note that the law allows for your medical records to be shared with entities not directly related to your care. According to HSS, this is usually for “making sure doctors give good care, making sure nursing homes are clean and safe, reporting when the flu is in your area, or reporting as required by state or federal law.”
Fortunately, in many cases you have the right to know who has seen your information. You can also let your health care providers or insurance companies know if there is information you do not want to share or if you don’t want it shared with certain groups or organisations. You can also ask to be contacted at a place other than home.
If you believe that your rights are being violated you have the right to file a complaint with your health care provider, health insurance company or HHS. You can also contact a medical malpractice lawyer if you think negligence is a factor.
Other rights afforded to patients
According to American Cancer Society, a number of rights are also provided under the Patient’s Bill of Rights which was created with the Affordable Care Act in 2010. These include the right to an easy-to-understand summary of insurance benefits and coverage and the right get health insurance in spite of pre-existing medical conditions. You’re also entitled to some preventive screening without paying extra fees or co-payments. There is also a mental health bill of rights, a hospice patient’s bill of rights and rights of people in hospitals.
Other rights have their grounding in basic human rights and medical ethics. These include the right to be treated with respect, the right to make a choice in your treatment and the right to give informed consent. You also have the right to refuse treatment once you are of sound mind and to make decisions about your end-of-life care.
As you can see, there are several rights afforded to patients in varying settings and under varying pieces of legislation. It is important that you are aware of these rights, so you can help to ensure you get the best care and treatment possible.