Patient's Rights And Responsibilities

Courtesy of the Veteran's Health Administration

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Patients Rights

The Department of Veterans Affairs respects the rights of the patient, recognizes that each patient is an individual with unique health care needs, and, because of the importance of respecting each patient's personal dignity, provides considerate, respectful care focused upon the patient's individual needs. The Department of Veterans Affairs assists the patient in the exercise of his/her rights and informs the patient of any responsibilities incumbent upon him/her in the exercise of those rights.

The following lists of Patients Rights are assured for each patient unless medically contraindicated. You have the right to consent to or to refuse recommended treatment and to be informed of the medical consequences of such refusal. This facility has in place mechanisms for the consideration of ethical issues arising in the care of patients and to provide education to caregivers and patients on ethical issues in health care. You have the rights to present grievances if you feel these rights have not been provided.

  • You should be treated with dignity as an individual, with compassion and respect, with reasonable protection from harm, and with appropriate privacy. Your care should include consideration of the psycho social, spiritual, and cultural variables that influence the perceptions of illness.
  • You will receive to the extent that you are eligible, prompt and appropriate treatment for physical or emotional disorders or disabilities in the least restrictive environment necessary for that treatment free from unnecessary or excessive medication.
  • You will not be denied you legal rights while hospitalized (except where State law provides otherwise).
  • You have the right to communicate freely and privately with persons outside the facility and to have or refuse visitors. There shall be reasonable access to public telephones for making and receiving calls.
  • You have the right to receive unopened mail. If there is a reason to believe the mail may contain contraband, then you will have to open the mail in the presence of an appropriate person.
  • You will be afforded the opportunity to write letters and be assisted in doing so when necessary.
  • You will be allowed to wear you own clothes and to keep personal possessions.
  • You have the right to keep and spend your own money.
  • You have the right to social interaction as well as to regular exercise. Also, you have the opportunity for religious worship.
  • Your medical record and all other information about you will be kept confidential unless disclosure is required or permitted by law or you consent to its release.
  • You have a right to be informed of any human experimentation or other research/educational projects affecting your care or treatment.

A description of these rights detailed on the previous page and the way to present grievances is posted on each ward and in other treatment areas.

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Patient Responsibilities

Your complying with the following list of Patient Responsiblities is necessary to assure you of the highest quality care. It shows also the importance of your contribution to your care. You are responsible for the following:

  1. To follow all of the Medical Center's safety rules and posted signs.
  2. To be considerate and respectful to all medical center personnel and other patients.
  3. To cooperate with your treatment staff. If you have questions or disagree with your treatment plan, you are responsible for discussing it with your treatment staff.
  4. To try to prevent any injury to yourself, other patients, visitors, and staff members by your own actions and to be responsible for the safekeeping of clothing, money, and personal possessions you choose to keep with you while you are in this facility.
  5. To make all of your scheduled diagnostic or treatment appointments on time.
  6. To avoid interfering with the treatment of other patients, particularly in emergency situations
  7. To assist by alerting the staff when another patient is having any difficulty.
  8. To tell your visitors to be considerate of other patients and medical center personnel and to observe the visiting hours.
  9. To be understanding and patient if your encounter delays.
  10. To make sure you understand what medications you must take following discharge from the medical center and whether you are scheduled for outpatient follow-up visit(s).

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Advance Directives

The Department of Veterans Affairs affirms the patient's right to make decisions regarding his/her medical care, including the decision to discontinue treatment, to the extent permitted by law. Each patient has a right to complete a form known as an "advance directive," a written statement which the patient completes in advance of serious illness about which medical decisions he/she wants made for him/her in the event that he/she can no longer make his/her wishes known.

The two most common forms of advance directives are a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. You will be asked about your wishes regarding an advance directive at admission. This document, if you choose to create one, will be maintained as part of your medical record and will be reviewed periodically with you or your surrogate decision maker. The provision of care is not the existence of an advance directive. A policy on informed decision making is developed by the medical and administrative staff and is consistent with all legal requirements. There are also hospital-wide policies on the withholding of resuscitative services from patients and the forgoing or withdrawing of life-sustaining treatment.

The care of the dying patient optimizes the comfort and dignity of the patient through treating primary and secondary sysptoms that respond to treatment as desired by the patient or surrogate decision maker, effectively managing pain, and acknowledging the psycho social and spiritual concerns of the patient and the family regarding dying and the expression of grief by the patient and family.

The guardian, next of kin, or legally authorized responsible person representing the patient has the right to exercise, to the extent permitted by law, the rights delineated on behalf of the patient if the patient has been adjudicated incompetent in accordance with the law, is found by his/her physician to be medically incapable of understanding the proposed treatment or procedure, or is unable to communicate his/her wishes regarding treatment.

Department of Veterans Affairs
VA Form
Aug 1993 10-7991A (RS)

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