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Understanding Patient Rights

In the nursing profession, nurses have to adhere to a set of standards, generally referred to as the Patients’ Bill of Rights, that outline the rights that the patients in their care are entitled to getting, since they are the recipients of medical care from nurses and other members of the medical profession. Nursing programs may even touch on this subject for any nursing students attending nursing schools. Patients’ rights are understood to embody a set of positive rights that physicians, nurses and others in a hospital setting must offer their patients. Typically, patients’ rights encompass the following things: the autonomy to make medical decisions on their own, physicians providing them with all the information they ask, and physicians also providing them with fair treatment. People who hold nurse jobs have to understand that upholding a patient’s rights is just as important as providing them with medical care.

Pleasant Bed Manner

Since the role of a nurse is to essentially look after their patients, the first thing they have to ensure is that the patient feels pleasant, at least in his or her presence. As online nursing programs may teach students enrolled in such courses, one of the most important aspects of a nurse’s duties comes down to having the right kind of bedside manner as they go and communicate with their patients. Since one of the roles that nurses have is to act as an advocate for their patients, patients should expect their nurse to make them feel at ease and as comfortable as possible in all interactions. An approach like that from a nurse goes a long way towards improving the wellbeing and the health of patients.

Everyone is Treated Equal

Non-discrimination and respect are big components of patients’ rights, and nurses should grasp this concept relatively quickly as they progress through their nursing education, whether it is through online LPN programs, online RN programs, a traditional LPN program or a traditional RN program. Patients can also expect to be treated with values such as compassion and dignity, which includes nurses protecting their privacy as much as they can, providing treatment and care in an environment that is safe, and honoring their religious values and practices at all times. Freedom is a value that is another aspect of patients’ rights, though this can be violated in a very few instances when there are no other possible alternatives. For example, personal freedoms are things like being able to walk around (assuming the patient is ambulatory), yet the exception to this right occurs if a patient is being difficult or uncooperative. In those rarer cases, the use of physical restraints or medications to subdue may be used on a patient.

Patient's Care

Another big component of patients’ rights is the right concerning the receipt of information related to a patient’s care. Information such as this is essential to a patient because he or she should not only be involved in his or her own care, but the one actually making the final decisions on what course of treatment to take for a medical condition. The patient can only succeed at doing this if he or she is armed with all the information about his or her medical condition or illness, and one of the caregivers charged with disseminating this information to the patient is the nurse. For instance, if a patient has any follow-up questions or any need for clarifications after a physician has explained the medical situation to them, he or she can ask a nurse, who should be more than happy to provide any additional explanations.

Interaction

Interaction is yet another right of a patient in a care facility setting. Interaction can be many things, such as interacting with other patients who are well enough, or it can also be more personal, such as interacting with one’s friends and family members when they come to visit. Other interaction extends even to areas such as getting all the regular exercise one wants to get while in a care facility. Still other areas of interaction include even activities like getting spiritual support when the patient deems it necessary, as well as being able to interact in a religious worship setting. A nurse has a duty to respect each of these examples of interaction when a patient asks for any interaction to be granted.

Cost of Care

Patients’ rights extend even to the sometimes complicated area of paying one’s hospital bills and getting one’s hospital documentations together properly. If a patient does not understand a portion of the bill that he or she has to pay, this can be communicated to the nurse who is in charge of taking care of the patient. Nursing occupations may not prepare a professional fully to deal with the intricacies of bill-paying, so if a nurse can’t help a patient, the nurse should at least forward the concerns of the patient to the appropriate department or liaison at the hospital or care facility. Similarly, if it turns out that a patient does not have the sufficient health insurance to pay for the hospital stay, the patient still has the right to be helped by the hospital in terms of securing other financing for the costs. A nurse can advocate for a patient in this respect.

Outlook

A nursing career is rewarding both professionally, monetarily and personally, but a nurse has to always be mindful of the many rights of the patient that he or she is treating. It is not enough for the nurse to give medical care and treatment to a patient if the patient’s rights are being trampled on; as the advocate for the patient, it is also in the duty of the nurse to communicate any needs of the patient or any rights that are not being granted. A patient has a number of rights, even if he or she is staying in a hospital or other care facility that is managed by a medical staff. Patients’ rights relate to a number of things in a hospital; they can include spiritual needs, religious worship, interaction with friends and family, right to be informed, and the right to exercise, just to name a few.

To discover more about patients’ rights, see these links.