Not Just For Healthcare Personnel

Are you a patient? No, you say? I’d say, yes. You are a patient every time you go to the dentist. You are a patient every time you get a prescription filled. You are a patient every time you pay a health insurance premium or a co-pay. You are a patient every time you browser a medical website or Google a healthcare question.


You are a patient.


As a patient you have certain rights and responsibilities.


You have the right


  • To receive accurate, easily understood information and some require assistance in making informed health care decisions about their health plans, professionals and facilities.
  • To a choice of health care providers that is sufficient to ensure access to appropriate high-quality health care.
  • To access emergency health care services when and where the need arises.
  • And responsibility to fully participate in all decisions related to their health care. Consumers who are unable to fully participate in treatment decisions have the right to be represented by parents, guardians, family members, or other conservators.
  • To considerate, respectful care from all members of the health care system at all times and under all circumstances.
  • To communicate with health care providers in confidence and to have the confidentiality of their individually identifiable health care information protected and the right to review and copy their own medical records and request amendments to their records.
  • To a fair and efficient process for resolving differences with their health plans, health care providers, and the institutions that serve them, including a rigorous system of internal review and an independent system of external review.


You have the responsibility


  • For maximizing healthy habits, such as exercising, not smoking, and eating a healthy diet.
  • To become involved in specific health care decisions.
  • To work collaboratively with health care providers in developing and carrying out agreed-upon treatment plans.
  • To disclose relevant information and clearly communicate wants and needs.
  • To use the health plan’s internal complaint and appeal processes to address concerns that may arise.
  • To avoid knowingly spreading disease.
  • To recognize the reality of risks and limits of the science of medical care and the human fallibility of the health care professional.       
  • To be aware of a healthcare provider’s obligation to be reasonably efficient and equitable in providing care to other patients and the community.
  • To become knowledgeable about your health plan coverage and health plan options (when available) including all covered benefits, limitations, and exclusions, rules regarding use of network providers, coverage and referral rules, appropriate processes to secure additional information and the process to appeal coverage decisions.
  • To show respect for other patients and health workers.
  • To make a good-faith effort to meet financial obligations.
  • To abide by administrative and operational procedures of health plans, health care providers, and Government health benefit programs.
  • To report wrongdoing and fraud to appropriate resources or legal authorities.





March 8 – 14 is National Patient Safety Awareness Week. Take your rights and responsibilities seriously!


  • Rid your medicine cabinets of old or expired medications.
  • Bring your medications to your doctor or pharmacist for review.
  • Obtain copies of all your healthcare records and keep them in a safe place.
  • Write down and carry with you all of your prescription and over the counter medications (including doses), as well as any allergies.
  • Write down and carry with you the names and numbers of all of your healthcare providers and pharmacies.
  • Identify an advocate (either family member or friend) who can accompany you and ask questions on your behalf.
  • Talk with your family or other close individuals about what your preferences are for your healthcare, in case you are unable to speak for yourself.




March 8 – 14 is National Patient Safety Awareness Week.


Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN


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