Page 2 of 9 

Ethics and the Law

Anyone who works with patients or medical records needs to know some important ethical and legal issues. In this section of the tutorial you will learn about patient rights and responsibilities. You will also learn about HIPAA, an important law that protects patient privacy.

You also know that one of your responsibilities is to keep patient information private and secure. Protecting patient information is very important. If you are ever unsure about how to handle patient information, ask your supervisor.

Patient Rights

What is the “Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities”?

In 1997 a presidential commission created the Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. The Patient Bill of Rights helps ensure quality healthcare. It also protects patients and healthcare workers. They also give a way for patients to address problems with the healthcare system.

What are a patient’s rights?

According to the Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, patients have a right to:

  • Accurate and easy to understand information about their health and healthcare providers. If patients speak another language, have a physical or mental disability or don’t understand something, assistance must be provided so they can make informed healthcare decisions.
  • Choose providers and plans that provide access to high-quality healthcare.
  • Emergency services whenever and wherever needed, without prior authorization or financial penalty.
  • Know their treatment options and make decisions about their care. If patients cannot make their own decisions, parents, guardians, family members, or other designated individuals can represent them.
  • Respect and nondiscriminatory care from healthcare providers and health plan administrators.
  • Private and protected health information. This means that patients have the right to talk privately with a doctor and that only people involved with their healthcare can see their medical records. Patients also have the right to review and copy their medical records and ask that their records be changed if they are not correct or complete.
  • Complain about healthcare or anything they feel dissatisfied with such as wait times, operating hours, the conduct of healthcare personnel or the quality of healthcare facilities. Patients also have a right to a fair, fast, and objective review of any complaint against their health plan, doctors, hospitals or other healthcare personnel.

Patients have rights, but what are their responsibilities? >>>

Page 2 of 9