When you’re sick, you rely on your medical providers to give you the best possible care — and you expect them to be attentive to your condition and needs.
So, what can you do when that doesn’t happen? Mistakes do happen in hospitals — especially when there are shift changes, new trainees on the floor, sleep-deprived doctors and overcrowded waiting rooms. Unfortunately, most patients feel like they’re simply at the mercy of the establishment. They wait, hoping someone will eventually focus on their condition long enough to make a difference.
You don’t have to be a passive patient. It doesn’t matter which hospital you are in. You have certain inalienable rights designed to protect you. Some of those rights include:
- Prompt responses to your questions
- A clear discussion of your treatment plan
- Information about who is responsible for your care
- Respect for your dignity
- Courteous treatment
- Freedom from neglect, abuse and exploitation
- Confidentiality about your medical condition
- The right to consent to or refuse treatment at will
However, you also have the right to:
- Express grievances regarding the quality of your care
- Require the administration to address your family’s concerns regarding your care
- Access advocacy services and protective services
These last three items are often accomplished by contacting the hospital’s patient ombudsman or patient representative (the exact title may vary by the facility). This person’s job is to intercede when patient care falls short. They know how the system works and can often cut right through the red tape and convoluted procedures that sometimes cause a patient to get “lost in the system.”
If you’re feeling like your care has fallen short of the acceptable standards of care, do not hesitate to ask the floor nurse to arrange a visit with the patient ombudsman. In addition, you can file a complaint with the appropriate state agency through the Florida Health Care Complaint Portal.
Lastly, you also have the right to seek legal assistance if your care was so substandard that it led to an injury. Medical malpractice is never something that should be overlooked.