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Know Your Rights

What are your rights?

You have rights regarding your treatment and care. Knowing your rights can help you make better decisions about your care.

  • You have the right to be informed about the care you will receive.
  • You have the right to get information about your care in your language.
  • You have the right to make decisions about your care, including refusing care.
  • You have the right to know the names of the caregivers who treat you.
  • You have the right to safe care.
  • You have the right to have your pain treated.
  • You have the right to know when something goes wrong with your care.
  • You have the right to get an up-to-date list of all of your current medications.
  • You have the right to be listened to.
  • You have the right to be treated with courtesy and respect.

Ask for written information about all of your rights as a patient.

Can your family or friends help with your care?

  • Find out if there is a form you need to fill out to name your personal representative, also called an advocate. Ask about your state's laws regarding advocates.

How can an advocate help with your care?

  • They can get information and ask questions for you when you can't.
  • They can remind you about instructions and help you make decisions.
  • They can find out who to go to if you are not getting the care you need.

Can your advocate make decisions for you?

  • No, not unless they are your legal guardian or you have given them that responsibility by signing a legal document, such as a health care power of attorney.

Can other people find out about your disease or condition?

  • The law requires health care providers to keep information about your health private.
  • You may need to sign a form if you want your health care providers to share information with your advocate or others.

What is "informed consent?"

  • This means that your health care providers have talked to you about your treatment and its risks.
  • They have also talked to you about options to treatment and what can happen if you aren't treated.

What happens if something goes wrong during treatment or with my care?

  • If something goes wrong, you have the right to an honest explanation.
  • The explanation should be made in a reasonable amount of time.

How do you file a complaint?

  • First, call the hospital or health system so that they can correct the problem.
  • Next, if you still have concerns, complaints can be sent to the licensing authority or to The Joint Commission.
  • The Joint Commission provides a complaint form on its website at www.jointcommission.org.

Questions to ask before you enter the health care facility

  • Can you have an advocate? Do you need to sign a document so your advocate can get important information about your care?
  • What will be done to make sure you don't get an infection?
  • Is there a form you need to sign about life-saving actions, like resuscitation?
  • Is there a form you need to sign about life support?
  • Does the organization allow members of your religion to visit and pray with you?
  • What kind of security does the facility have?
  • Is there a 24-hour guard or alarm system?
  • Whom do you speak to if a problem arises?
  • How does the organization handle complaints?
  • Are there any procedures that cannot be done at this facility for religious reasons?
  • Can you get a copy of your medical record and test results?

Questions to ask your doctor

  • How often will your doctor see you during your stay?
  • Who is responsible for your care when the doctor is not available? For example, on weekends and late at night.
  • What happens to you if life-saving actions are taken?
  • If your test or procedure shows that you need another procedure right away, can you get it done here? Or will you need to go to a different facility?


  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, www.ahrq.gov, "Questions Are The Answer" campaign and "20 Tips To Help Prevent Medical Errors"
  • http://www.jointcommission.org/

(This information was provided by JCAHO, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.)