This paper explores the concepts of patient’s rights, privacy, and informed consent, how they interrelate with themselves, and how they should be handled by the health professionals. Patients have specific rights with respect to healthcare delivery, and the healthcare professionals should be knowledgeable of the rights, and respect those patients’ rights. At the center of patients’ rights are privacy and informed consent. Patient privacy is described as confidentiality that should exist between health professional-patient interactions. Patients have the right to have their medical information or data remain confidential unless the patient wants the information to be disclosed to others. Informed consent is the voluntary decision that a competent patient makes to accept some or withdraw from some course of medical actions. Patients have the right to informed about their treatment and care and give consent to the care providers before they are engaged in any medical treatment.
Patient Rights, Privacy, and Informed Consent
Ethical standards dictate respect to the patient by health professionals as well as patient’s self-respect. Patients’ are entitled to specific rights in health care delivery. Thus, health professionals should be knowledgeable about the patients’ rights and respect those rights. Patients’ privacy and informed consent are among the ethical standards related to patients’ rights. Health professionals, relevant institutions, and selected people such as family members are obliged to support and advocate the patients’ rights. This paper examines the concepts of patients’ rights, privacy, and informed.
Patient rights are described as ethical codes that exist between the health professional-patient relationship as well as in the institutions and people who support the patients. It covers various issues such as access to care, patients’ privacy, informed consent, and patients’ dignity. Details about the patients’ rights have rapidly changed with time. Many patients have not clearly realized their rights as they are not defined or included in any papers they usually sign during registration. Most of the patients only know their basic rights such as the right to access to healthcare and the right to afford the health care services at an affordable price (Kuzu, Ergin, & Zencir, 2006). Further research should be undertaken to address the question of why many patients are not usually informed about their rights upon registration at various health care facilities. It is important for patients to work hand in hand with healthcare professionals to ensure that their rights within the healthcare settings are upheld. Codes of ethics can be set by various healthcare organizations to determine the penalties warranted to persons who violate patients’ rights.
Patients privacy is described as confidentiality that should exist in and during health professional-patient interactions. It is supported by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rule that addresses the use and disclosure of patients’ information (Moore, Snyder, Miller, & Qui, 2007). The access, use, and disclosure of patients’ information forms part of the treatment procedures undertaken within healthcare settings. It is almost impossible for healthcare professionals to attend to patients without using and disclosing patients’ information hence the need to keep the information away from other individuals with no authority to access the same. HIPAA also addresses patients’ understanding of how their information is used and disclosed. Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, health care providers are obliged to provide a notice of the privacy practices to the patients’ (NPP). NPP entails certain elements such as the description of how the healthcare providers plan to use or disclose patients’ personal health information as well as the specifications of patients’ rights such as the right to complain to the Department of Health and Human Services whenever the patients feel that their rights have been violated. Moreover, patients have the right to request that the healthcare providers practices restrict certain information such as the disclosure to notify the patients’ family members about their general conditions as well as the use and disclosure of PHI for treatment (Bauer, 2009). HIPAA rule also states that patients have the right to receive an accounting of disclosure of their PHI in relation to the healthcare providers’ privacy practices. It involves presenting the patients with a list on the purpose names of entity or persons to whom their PHI was disclosed to, the date on which the PHI was disclosed, as well as the description and the purpose of the disclosed PHI.
Informed consent is the voluntary decision that a competent patient makes to accept some or withdraw from some course of medical actions. Patients have rights to receive information about the available health services, about their general condition, and about the applicable treatment (Joffe, Cook, Cleary, Clark, & Weeks, 2001). The act of giving patients comprehensive and accurate information is to allow them to make independent choices before they are engaged in any course of medical action or treatment. Health care providers should often be aware of the patients’ mental competence to effectively transmit information that aids their informed consent. Moreover, health care providers and patients should engage in an active informed process in order to effect and execute the informed consent (Miller & Emanuel, 2008). Health care providers are required to provide simple and clear information to the patients. Patients should ask questions on certain issues they are not well conversant with. This implies that patients should be able to understand the relevant medical issues, weigh them, and have a balanced view to come to a voluntary decision. The information given to patients should come earlier to give them sufficient time to weigh various factors and make voluntary decisions.
Patients are entitled to various rights such as the right to privacy and right to informed consent, in the delivery of health services. Health professionals should comprehensively get to know the patients’ rights and respect those rights. Patients should be regularly advocated for and supported by the relevant institutions or people to create a favorable environment for them to engage in any form of medical action or treatment.
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Kuzu, N., Ergin, A., & Zencir, M. (2006). Patients’ Awareness of Their Rights in A Developing Country. Public Health, 120(4), 290-296. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0033350605002702
Miller, F. G., & Emanuel, E. J. (2008). Quality-Improvement Research and Informed Consent. New England Journal of Medicine, 358(8), 765-767. Retrieved from http://cdn.webservices.ufhealth.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/74/files/2012/09/CQI_and_Consent_NEJMed.pdf
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