Patients' Rights in Health Care

Patients' Rights in Health Care  

Patients' Rights in Health Care

February 6, 2023

As a health care worker, it’s important to understand what rights patients have before, during and after they’re in your care. Patients’ rights are a set of rights that medical patients are thought to be entitled to. Some are guaranteed by federal law, some by state law and others are offered by specific facilities.1  

The goal of patients’ rights is to protect patients in a time of need and when they are most vulnerable.


Examples of patients’ rights

Patients’ rights can be an important piece of a malpractice case, so making sure to abide by each set of laws and rules is important to protect yourself in case you’re named in a claim. When beginning care of a patient, it’s important to give the patient the names and job titles of all parties that will provide care to this individual.

An important patient right is informed consent. As a patient, your provider must give you the information you need to make a decision about your treatment. Patients also need to know and understand the risks involved, other treatment methods and the medicine that will be used. Refusing drugs, treatment and procedures is acceptable coming from a patient as health care workers can’t force anyone to do anything. 

Additionally, a right to receive care without discrimination over race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation or national origin is a key patient right. Patients can also request to view their medical records and have their medical records treated as confidential. 

Understanding patients’ rights at the federal and local law level, as well as what your employer has in place, will be a big step in preventing medical malpractice.


Patients’ rights in medical malpractice

If patients’ rights are ignored or violated, then a malpractice claim may occur. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that protects sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.2 It’s important to only speak about patient information with individuals who are part of the care team, not with friends, family members or others. 

Even if you, as a health care worker, didn’t mean to cause harm intentionally, a patient can still try to be compensated for damages. Lawsuits can wreak havoc on your career and cause financial strain if you don’t have applicable liability insurance coverage. Between 1996 and 2000, over $38 billion was paid out to victims through medical malpractice lawsuits.3 Professional liability insurance through Proliability can cover licensing board reimbursement expenses, deposition expenses, lost wages, lawyer fees and more. Visit for more information.

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