A Patient’s Right To Make Health Care Decisions
Excerpts from our booklet which contains information about your rights to make health care decisions in Maryland. It also includes our Patient Bill of Rights
A Patient’s Rights To Make Health Care Decisions in Maryland
Federal law requires surgery centers and physicians to tell patients and the people in their communities about their rights to make decisions about their medical care, including the right to accept or refuse medical treatment and the right to prepare “advance directives.” This page discusses your rights in Maryland.
Q. Who has the right to make decisions about my health care?
A. You have the right to make decisions about your health care, in consultation with your doctor if you are at least 18 years old, married, or the parent of a child, as long as you have sufficient understanding to make and communicate responsible decisions about your care.
Q. How do I exercise this right?
A. Your doctor should discuss your situation with you and obtain your consent before giving you care. You have the right to refuse treatment or to choose among different kinds of treatment. You may leave the physician’s office, hospital, or The Endoscopy Center or seek treatment from other health care providers. Making a responsible choice does not always mean you accept you doctor’s advice, but it does mean you understand the consequences of your choice.
Q. What is a written advance directive?
A. The written advance directive is broader than a living will and permits you to name a health care agent, give health care instructions, or both. A durable power of attorney for health care is an example of this kind of written advance directive. If you use the written advance directive, you can make decisions about life sustaining procedures if you are in a terminal condition, a persistent vegetative state or an end stage condition.
Q. Where can I get more information and copies of advance directive forms?
A. More information is contained in the following pages on “Legal Rights of Marylanders to Decide About Future Medical Treatment,” prepared by Maryland’s Attorney General.
As a patient, it is important that you know and understand your rights and responsibilities.
1. Patients can expect appropriate medical care without regard to such considerations as race, color, religion, national origin, or the source of payment for their care.
2. Patients can expect to be treated respectfully by others, to be addressed by their proper names and without undue familiarity, to be listened to when they have questions or desire more information and to receive an appropriate response.
3. Patients can expect privacy and confidentiality in all aspects of their care. When they are examined, they are entitled to privacy–to have any observers unrelated to their care identified to them. They may ask anyone to leave if they so desire and restrict their visitors.
4. Patients can expect to know the name of the doctor who is responsible for their care, to talk with that doctor and to receive the information necessary for them to understand their medical problem. They can expect to be informed of the planned course of treatment, including an appropriate explanation about procedures or operations. Patients have the right to ask their doctor any questions that concern their health and future medical outlook.
5. Patients can expect efficient and courteous attention from all personnel when they request help, with the understanding that other patients may have similar or more urgent needs.
6. Research activities involving patients are to be carried out only with their written consent and the approval of their personal physician. After the details of the program have been explained, they have the right to refuse to participate. Moreover, they retain the right to cancel their participation at any time.
7. Every patient shall have the right to unrestricted communication with any person or persons of his choice.
8. Patients may elect not to follow the advice of their doctors. If they elect to take such action while hospitalized, they will be asked to sign an “Against Medical Advice” form, and the physicians will not be responsible for any harm which may result.
9. Patients may inquire about their charges and obtain information about payment of their medical bills.
1. Patients will be expected to keep appointments or telephone the office and/or The Endoscopy Center when they cannot keep a scheduled appointment. They are expected to provide or make available pertinent information, past or present, relating to the status of their health. Patients should let us know immediately if they do not understand any matter relating to their diagnosis, care and treatment or instructions with which they cannot comply.
2. Patients have the responsibility to be considerate of other patients with reference to noise and smoking. Regulations have been established to ensure the rights and comfort of all patients and must be followed.
3. Patients have a responsibility for making prompt arrangements for payment of bills and are to be prompt in asking questions they may have concerning their bills.
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Legal Rights of Marylanders to Decide About Health Care
by J. Joseph Curran, Jr., Attorney General
Adults generally have the right to decide if they want medical treatment, unless they are not competent. This right also includes decisions about treatments that extend life, like life-support machines or feeding tubes.
Sometimes, an accident or ilness takes away a person’s ability to make health care choices. But the decisions still must be made. If you are unable to make them, others will. They will decide based on your wishes, or your best interests if your wishes are unknown.
Maryland law gives you the right to make many health care decisions in advance. One way to do this is by using a written advance directive. For example, you can use a written advance directive to name an agent to make your health care decisions if you cannot. A written advance directive can also state your treatment preferences, especially about life sustaining procedures.
Maryland law also lets you make an oral advance directive to your doctor, with a witness. Oral advance directive can be used to name a health care agent, to make decisions about life-sustaining procedures, or both.
How Do You Get More Information?
This summary does not cover every issue. If you have legal questions about your rights, please talk to a lawyer. Also talk to your health care provider about the medical issues involved in your care. Tell those caring for you about your decisions and give them a copy of any advance directive.
For a free copy of optional advance directive forms, write to the Attorney General’s Office, Opinions Division, 200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, MD 21202 or call at (410) 576-7000. Forms are also available from the General Assembly’s Department of Legislative Reference at (410) 841-3810 (if you are calling from the D.C. area, 858-3810), from the State Office on Aging at (800) 243-3425, are at any Area Agency on Aging.
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Our focus is always on the patient, whether in the office for a visit or in the Ambulatory Surgical Center having a procedure done. In that respect, THE ENTIRE STAFF IS EXPECTED TO ACT AS PATIENT ADVOCATES , whose sole purpose is to place our patients’ first.