There has never been a more important time to know your rights, since the COVID-19 health crisis has changed the way we seek and receive medical treatment. Here are some of your rights as a patient:
- Right to information
When making medical decisions, you have the right to receive all the information you need about any proposed procedure or treatments. You have the right to get information about steps of the procedure or treatment, other risks involved, or other alternatives to explore. You can also request or refuse treatment to the extent of the law.
- Right to privacy
The Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA) prohibits any health care provider, service plan, or contractor from disclosing any medical information without authorization. Any case discussion, consultation, examination, should be conducted discreetly. Your medical records and all communications pertaining to your care, stay within the hospital. You should receive a “Notice of Privacy Practices” from your facility explaining these rights.
A federal law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects you and your medical records. As a general rule, patients must authorize any disclosure of their protected health information. HIPAA does not interfere with the patient care process, so doctors, nurses, laboratories, and other healthcare professionals can discuss treatment plans and health status of the patient.
However, patients have the right to see and receive copies of their medical records, the right to request an amendment to their records if a valid mistake is made, control who is informed about their health information, see an accounting of their non routine disclosures, restrict information from family/friends, file complaints, and receive a notice of privacy practices.
- Rights related to COVID-19
When you get tested for COVID-19, it is important for you to know that a public health threat requires some of your data to be reported to public health authorities.
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that laboratories and providers must report results of COVID-19 in order to give health officials comprehensive data when making decisions. The information collected are: the test ordered, test result, patient age, race, ethnicity, gender, zip code, county, date test ordered. This data is reported directly to the CDC.
As of June 4, 2020, the HHS released guidance on how healthcare providers, COVID-19 testing centers, and laboratories should report additional data along with COVID-19 test results.
- Right to contest medical billing
If you feel that you have been charged incorrectly, you have the right to request an itemized budget or detailed line-item bill, and dispute any errors found. You can call your medical provider billing department to ask about any billing disputes.
For more information, go to:
- California Health Information Association
- Education Foundation
- Patients Rights Advocate
- PCI HIPPA