As a patient receiving treatment for a medical condition, you may feel that you have little control over the situation. While it is true that there is little you can do to change your condition through force of will, you do have the right to participate actively in your medical care.
The American Medical Association describes the doctor-patient relationship as a mutually respectful alliance. It explains the rights you have as a patient and your doctor’s responsibility to honor them.
As long as you have decision-making capabilities, you have the right to either accept or refuse any treatment recommended by your doctor. He or she cannot force you to undergo treatment that you do not want.
2. Informed consent
When recommending treatment for you, your doctor should discuss the risks, benefits and costs involved, as well as those associated with forgoing treatment. You should receive information about alternative treatments as well as your doctor’s objective professional opinion about the optimal course of action. You have the right to ask questions and not to consent to any treatment until you feel you have an adequate understanding of all the options.
3. Records access
You should be able to access summaries or copies of your medical records at any time. You also have the right to make corrections as needed.
4. Conflicts of interest and continuity of care
If your doctor has a conflict of interest related to your care, you have a right to know about it. If your doctor is no longer able to continue your care, he or she has a responsibility to provide assistance in referring your case to another physician.
Medical malpractice may result from a physician’s failure to respect your rights as a patient.