Even though you are being treated at home, as opposed to in a hospital or doctor’s office, you still have rights as a patient. It is important that you as the patient or the supporting family member be aware of these rights and be your own advocate to make sure these rights aren’t violated--and if they are, to take the right action so someone else doesn’t become a victim, or so that changes can be made to policy or staff to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Before initiating any care, you have the right to know and be provided a copy of the home health care agency’s policy on ensuring that your rights as a patient are respected. These individual policies may vary depending on your particular state, home health care agency, or insurance coverage.
Your rights as a home health care patient include, but are not limited to (adapted from State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services):
1) Being treated with courtesy and respect, with “full recognition of your dignity and individuality, including privacy in treatment and care for personal needs.”
2) Having your property treated with respect.
3) Having your personal and medical records treated confidentially, and the right to “refuse their release to any individual outside the agency, except in the case of transfer to another health facility or as required by law or third party contract.”
4) Having access to your records upon request.
5) Being “informed in advance about the services available and the disciplines, frequency and care to be furnished, as well as any changes in care or services to be furnished, before the changes occur.”
6) Being informed of any expected payment from a medical aid program, what fees for service are not covered by the program, and services and fees will be up to the patient/family to pay for. Any changes to fees for care and payment sources both orally and in writing.
7) Being kept “fully informed of your health condition, unless medically contraindicated, and to be afforded the opportunity to participate in the planning of the home health services, including referral to health care institutions or other agencies, and to refuse to participate in experimental research.”
8) Being taught (both you and your family members) how to provide the treatments “you need so that, to the extent possible, you can help yourself or have your family, or others designated by you, understand and help you.”
9) Being allowed to “voice grievances regarding treatment or care…” and you must not be subject to “discrimination or reprisal for voicing a grievance or complaining about your treatment or care.”
10) Being represented by your family or legal representative to “exercise your patient’s rights when you have been judged incompetent by a court of law.”
11) Being allowed to “make decisions regarding medical care, including to accept or refuse treatment to the extent permitted by law, to be informed of the medical consequences of refusing care, and to formulate advance directives.”
12) “Being informed of all regulation governing your responsibilities as a patient.”
Sources: Medicare.gov (http://www.medicare.gov/homehealthcompare/%28S%284zxsx145dl3ctu3yx11x5vj5%29%29/About/GettingCare/PatientRights.aspx); Department of Health Services (State of Wisconsin) (http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/forms1/F6/F62601.pdf)
Reviewed July 8, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Alison Stanton