Whether you’re heading to the doctor for an annual physical or you’re being admitted to undergo surgery, paperwork is involved. Sometimes, that paperwork is lengthy and often uses medical jargon that the average person doesn’t understand.
As a patient, it’s important to understand what your rights and obligations are when you enter into a medical facility. While that information should be explained to you clearly, that doesn’t always happen. In order to get a better idea of what all that paperwork means, let’s take a look at what you need to know about signing a waiver at a hospital.
Understanding Hospital Paperwork
For every hospital visit, there are a number of forms you have to fill out. The basic information includes your personal details and health insurance information. What you provide through official documentation is kept in your medical record, along with the findings and treatment plans provided by your medical care team.
If you’re going to be staying in the hospital, there will be a lot of paperwork that keeps track of your time there. You may need to complete the following forms:
- An admission form in the emergency department
- An outpatient admission form
- An in-patient admission for overnight stays
- A consent to treat form
- A power of attorney form
- A discharge form
At any time during your stay in a medical facility or once you’ve left, you have the right to request those documents. It’s important, however, to ensure you have a complete understanding of what you’re signing, what it means, and why you need to sign it. That’s why it’s crucial to ask questions before you put pen to paper.
The Concept of Informed Consent
When you enter into a medical facility, assuming the situation isn’t an emergency, you have to grant permission for care, treatment, and services. That process of communication is called informed consent. As a patient, you have the right to get information and ask questions about the care you are or will be receiving.
Adult patients who are mentally able to make their own decisions cannot receive medical care unless they give informed consent. The process for doing so includes receiving information regarding the name of your condition, the name of the procedure or treatment the doctor is recommending, the risks and benefits associated with the treatment, and risks and benefits associated with other options—including not receiving care.
If you review that information with your physician and you agree, you provide consent by signing a form. Once the document is signed, it is considered legally binding and it lets your doctor progress with treatment. Once you’ve provided informed consent, it means you agree to the following:
- You’ve received all of the information regarding your treatment options.
- You understand that information and you’ve had the opportunity to ask questions.
- You’ve used the information you’ve been given to decide if you want to receive the recommended treatment options.
Your Rights as a Hospital Patient
As we’ve discussed, you will be asked to sign a number of different documents and waivers as a hospital patient. It’s important to understand what your rights are while you’re receiving care. This way, if you receive improper care or your rights are violated, you’ll be able to take the necessary step to hold the health care professional or facility responsible for their actions.
As a patient, you are entitled to the following:
- The right to know all information pertaining to your care, so you can make informed decisions about your health, wellbeing, and future.
- The right to choose advocates and visitors.
- The right to high-quality care.
- The right to emergency care, which includes active labor.
- The right to complain in the event you disagree with aspects of your treatment and talking directly to staff hasn’t helped.
If you believe your patient rights have been violated, you may want to consider seeking advice from a medical malpractice attorney, who can explain what your legal rights and options are.
Seek Legal Guidance from Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC
In the event you have questions about how you were cared for in a medical setting or if you believe you’re a victim of medical malpractice, get in touch with the lawyers at Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC. We have extensive experience representing victims of physician negligence, and we’re prepared to take your case on next.
If you’re dealing with injuries and losses, we understand how a legal claim may seem at the bottom of your priorities list. That’s why we’ll do what we can to handle your claim while you focus on your health and wellbeing. To learn more about your options after sustaining an injury in a hospital or other medical facility, schedule a case evaluation with our firm today.