Ask Andy: Patients' Rights - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Ask Andy: Patients' Rights

By Andy Wise - bio | email

MEMPHIS (WMC TV) - The surgery's a success. Tumor's gone. The doc estimates your recovery at 100 percent.

You fought the disease. Now you must fight for your rights.

Trisha Torrey, author of You Bet Your Life! The 10 Mistakes Every Patient Makes and her web site, told consumer resource Bottom Line Secrets magazine these are the rights every patient should assert at the hospital:

* RIGHT TO AN ITEMIZED BILL.  That's an itemization of every service and every treatment.

"You are also entitled, by request, to a separate record of every staff member, nurse, or doctor who administered those treatments," said Anita Scales, director of patient advocacy for St. Francis Hospital, Memphis.

* RIGHT TO COPY OF HOSPITAL CHART. "You may have to sign a release to receive it, but you are entitled to a copy of the chart that followed you through your entire stay," said Marilynn S. Robinson, Senior Vice President, St. Francis Hospital, Memphis and Bartlett, TN.

* RIGHT TO A DOCTOR, NOT A RESIDENT. This is not a knock on residents. Patients simply have the right to choose someone with more experience to care for them.

* RIGHT TO AN ETHIC CONSULTATION. If family members can't agree on life support or a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), the patient -- or the patient's loved ones -- are entitled to an ethics consultation by a professional of their choice. The consult may include a doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, the hospital's patient advocate or an independent advocate, or anyone the family or patient decides is appropriate to attend.

* RIGHT TO REFUSE TREATMENT OR MEDICATION. Patients may refuse any treatment, as long as they understand the potential consequences. It's a good idea to consult your medical insurance policy. The refusal of some treatments may violate your policy.

* RIGHT TO REFUSE EXAMINATION BY ANYONE. Let's say you have a nurse who's on her sixth attempt to draw your blood. The nurse keeps botching it. You have the right to say, "You had your chance," and ask for someone else on staff to do the job.

Assert your patient rights, but assert them respectfully. Tender-loving care goes both ways at the hospital. The sweeter you are, the better your hospital experience and, just maybe, the quicker your recovery.

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