Patient Protection Measures: Patient's Bill of Rights, Good Samaritan Laws & Informed Consent

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  • 0:00 Patient's Bill of Rights
  • 1:30 Informed Consent
  • 3:39 Good Samaritan Laws
  • 4:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Zona Taylor

Zona has taught Nursing and has a master's degree in Nursing Education and Maternal-Infant Nursing from University of Maryland Baltimore.

In this lesson, you will learn about three patient protection measures: Patient's Bill of Rights, Good Samaritan laws, and informed consent. It's a good idea to learn about your rights before something happens. It may not be as cut and dried as you think.

Patient's Bill of Rights

A Patient's Bill of Rights refers to what a patient is guaranteed when receiving medical care. It may have the weight of law or simply be a declaration by a given entity. The first Patient's Bill of Rights was adopted by the American Hospital Association in the early 1970s. Since then, there have been many Patient's Bill of Rights lists.

The older lists included the following rights:

  • Communication - patients being well informed and actively involved in their own care
  • Respect and compassion
  • Right to have someone notified promptly of the patient's admission to the hospital or emergency department
  • Right to agree to or refuse visitors, tests, medications, treatment, participation in research studies, photos, films, and/or recordings
  • Pain management
  • Confidentiality

More recent Patient's Bill of Rights lists have included patients' rights to know about what his health insurance company will and won't pay for and know of any agreements between the insurance company and their doctor that may limit their care choices.

The most recent Patient's Bill of Rights, released in 2010 with the Affordable Care Act, was designed to give new patient protections in dealing with insurance companies and included:

  • Lifting annual and lifetime dollar limits
  • Removing exclusions for preexisting conditions
  • Extending coverage of adult children to age 26 years
  • Free preventive care

Informed Consent

Informed consent is the patient's right to have adequate information before either agreeing to or rejecting a given plan of treatment. The patient needs a thorough understanding of all the options available, including all pros and cons prior to making a decision.

Let's look at an example: On a Friday, a 63-year-old woman fell and hit her back when she landed. Over the weekend, she took over-the-counter pain medicine and was able to walk using a cane.

On Monday, she went to her family doctor's office. He took an x-ray and found a broken bone in her back. He told her she needed surgery. She was transferred by ambulance to the nearest hospital able to do this surgery.

Upon arrival at the hospital, the specialist ordered a physical therapy (PT) evaluation. The report from PT told the specialist that the patient was not a candidate for surgery. He sent her home with home PT and pain medication.

The patient was upset that she had not had the surgery, that her doctor had not made her aware of all the options available, including all the pros and cons, prior to her making a decision. The family doctor had led the patient to believe there was only one option on how to treat her fracture. He did not told her there were options other than surgery. The doctor also had not told the patient that physical therapy might work just as well. Finally, the doctor had not told the patient that she would likely be in about the same place physically in 12 months, with or without the surgery.

The patient's insurance would not pay for the surgery until after a trial of physical therapy. The surgery would have cost $30,000 dollars if her insurance had refused to pay.

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