The Real Patient’s Bill of Rights

Every healthcare provider would agree in theory with the “Patient’s Bill of Rights” and the need for them (Yes, there are more than one floating out there). I’ve been educating RNs to become Certified Legal Nurse Consultants for 31 years now and the consensus among these nurses is that there’s the ideal Patient’s Bill of Rights and there’s the “Real Patient’s Bill of Rights.”

You all know the ideal so let’s get real:

  1. You have the right to choose the physician of your choice – as long as you can pay the bill yourself.
  2. You have the right to see that physician for four minutes and have your symptoms ignored whenever he gets around to you (so long as he doesn’t cancel you for vacation or a golf game).
  3. You have the right to stay in network – no matter how incompetent the providers are.
  4. You have the right to go to a hospital that insists its providers be dropped from a lawsuit before the hospital settles a lawsuit in order to avoid negative NPDB reporting and keep its record artificially clean.
  5. You have the right to sit in the ED for hours and be exposed to all sorts of contagions before being shunted to a room that hasn’t been properly cleaned or sterilized since Florence Nightingale left nursing.
  6. You have the right to acquire a nasty infection and a multitude of other serious iatrogenic complications the longer you stay in a hospital.
  7. You have the right to be one of the 1,500,000 patients who suffers a medication error because hospitals spend more time and money hiding the issue than fixing it.
  8. You have the right to distracted doctoring – your surgeon texting while operating on you – and a guarantee that the nurse who reports it will be fired.
  9. You have the right to be talked down to by the medical team and ignored by the nursing team.
  10. You have the right to let everybody else decide the level and extent of your care and to have little or no say in it.
  11. You have the right to have your protected health information discussed by healthcare providers in elevators, the cafeteria and, did I say, social media.
  12. You have the right to refuse treatment and to be fired by your physician for said refusal.
  13. You have the right to be one of the 98,000 plus patients who die every year in hospitals due to medical malpractice.
  14. You have the right to have your insurance company establish the standards of care for your physician and thus tie his hands by doing so.
  15. You have the right to accurate and easily understood information about your health plan and your health status as long as you speak two languages other than English – those being insurance obfuscation gibberish and healthcare provider jargon.
  16. You have the right to stay in the hospital for the period proscribed by your insurance company – whether or not you need additional care and your family has the right to assume the necessary care required where the hospital left off.
  17. You have the right to appeal inappropriate denials by your insurance company and the right to die while waiting for the appeal to move from being ignored to summarily denied.
  18. Finally, you have the right, or obligation, to stay as healthy as possible to avoid having to exercise any of the aforementioned rights.

I’m Just Sayin’

P.S. I’m just getting started but, please do comment and share your additions to the “Real Patient’s Bill of Rights.”

4 thoughts on “The Real Patient’s Bill of Rights

  1. Vickie, you are “right on” in regard to the reality of what is going on today in healthcare. You can’t count on your co-workers/peers when you are experiencing some of these “rights.” As a nurse, everyone’s job is expendable.

  2. I love your realistic Patient’s Bill of Rights! An additional one could address some health insurance companies’ programs that offer to reduce your insurance premium if you sign up for their “Healthy Lifestyles” programs….

    You have the right to voluntarily provide your health insurance company with a detailed medical history, and voluntarily subject yourself to a battery of laboratory tests that exposes every potential medical issue you may ever have, and based on the lab results, it gives the insurance company the right to diagnose you with a condition your doctor has not diagnosed you as having, in exchange for saving 50 bucks off of your premium; which in turn gives the insurance company the right to deny any and all insurance claims as pre-existing conditions.

  3. 19. You have the right to have a prospective insurer falsify your application in order to deny your entire family insurance coverage.
    20. You have the right to be bullied for telling the doctor your symptoms.

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