If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, there is a better-than-good chance that you are going to be spend a fair amount of time in a hospital setting. Nobody likes being in the hospital, but there are some situations that can make the experience even more upsetting than normal. Patients who are receiving treatment, whether for a minor injury or a condition as serious and life-threatening as malignant mesothelioma have certain rights regarding the decisions that are made about their care and the way that they are treated by hospital staff, but unfortunately people who are already feeling ill have a tendency to feel helpless, and to accept treatment that falls short of the compassionate care that they deserve.
If you are hospitalized for treatment of your mesothelioma, or if you are visiting a loved one in the hospital, there should be a copy of the patient’s “bill of rights” posted in the hospital room. If it is not, here are some of the top points outlined in the guidelines developed by the American Hospital Association:
- The patient has the right to considerate and respectful care.
- The patient has the right and is encouraged to obtain from physicians and other direct caregivers relevant, current, and understandable information about his or her diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.
- Except in emergencies when the patient lacks the ability to make decisions and the need for treatment is urgent, the patient is entitled to a chance to discuss and request information related to the specific procedures and/or treatments available, the risks involved, the possible length of recovery, and the medically reasonable alternatives to existing treatments along with their accompanying risks and benefits.
- The patient has the right to know the identity of physicians, nurses, and others involved in his or her care, as well as when those involved are students, residents, or other trainees. The patient also has the right to know the immediate and long-term financial significance of treatment choices insofar as they are known.
- The patient has the right to make decisions about the plan of care before and during the course of treatment and to refuse a recommended treatment or plan of care if it is permitted by law and hospital policy. The patient also has the right to be informed of the medical consequences of this action. In case of such refusal, the patient is still entitled to appropriate care and services that the hospital provides or to be transferred to another hospital. The hospital should notify patients of any policy at the other hospital that might affect patient choice.
- The patient has the right to have an advance directive (such as a living will, health care proxy, or durable power of attorney for health care) concerning treatment or designating a surrogate decision-maker and to expect that the hospital will honor that directive as permitted by law and hospital policy.
- Health care institutions must advise the patient of his or her rights under state law and hospital policy to make informed medical choices, must ask if the patient has an advance directive, and must include that information in patient records. The patient has the right to know about any hospital policy that may keep it from carrying out a legally valid advance directive.
- The patient has the right to privacy. Case discussion, consultation, examination, and treatment should be conducted to protect each patient’s privacy.
- The patient has the right to expect that all communications and records pertaining to his/her care will be treated confidentially by the hospital, except in cases such as suspected abuse and public health hazards when reporting is permitted or required by law. The patient has the right to expect that the hospital will emphasize confidentiality of this information when it releases it to any other parties entitled to review information in these records.
- The patient has the right to review his or her medical records and to have the information explained or interpreted as necessary, except when restricted by law.
- When medically appropriate and legally permissible, or when a patient has so requested, a patient may be transferred to another facility. The institution to which the patient is to be transferred must first have accepted the patient for transfer. The patient also must have the benefit of complete information and explanation concerning the need for, risks, benefits, and alternatives to such a transfer.
- The patient has the right to expect reasonable continuity of care and to be informed by physicians and other caregivers of available and realistic patient care options when hospital care is no longer appropriate.
- The patient has the right to be informed of hospital policies and practices that relate to patient care treatment, and responsibilities. The patient has the right to be informed of available resources for resolving disputes, grievances, and conflicts, such as ethics committees, patient representatives, or other mechanisms available in the institution. The patient has the right to be informed of the hospital’s charges for services and available payment methods.
If you feel that your care team is failing to meet these standards, your best course of action is to request a meeting with a hospital administrator to voice your concerns. If you need information about your rights to pursue compensation for your asbestos exposure, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.