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Viewpoint: Patient Responsibilities, Health Care Workers Rights (for a Change)

Totten, Vicken MD

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doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000437850.54915.f5

    Wouldn't it be nice if rights and responsibilities were balanced? We have health care worker responsibilities and patient rights so why not health care worker rights and patient responsibilities?

    Health Care Worker Rights:

    • All health care workers have basic individual rights, including the civil, constitutional, and statutory rights of each person as codified by the Geneva Convention and in the Constitution of the United States of America.
    • Health care workers have the right to considerate and respectful behavior from the patients for whom they care and to be free from harassment, abuse, attack, and verbal and mental abuse.
    • Health care workers have the right to considerate and respectful behavior from their superiors and to be free from harassment, abuse, attack, and verbal and mental abuse.
    • Health care workers have the right to protect themselves from physical attack.
    • Health care workers have the right to register a complaint about a patient, and to pursue that complaint through the hospital system or in a court of law without risk to his employment.
    • Health care workers shall not be required to put their lives, their physical health, or the health of their families at risk.
    • Health care workers have the right to reasonable access to the tools needed to perform the duties of their position.
    • Health care workers have the right to sufficient personal time during the work shift to keep hydrated and nourished as needed.

    Patient Responsibilities:

    • Patients must understand that health care services in the United States are a privilege, not a right, and must be paid for.
    • Death is inevitable, and not all deaths are someone's “fault.”
    • Patients shall provide, to the best of their knowledge and ability, accurate and complete information about matters relating to their health.
    • Patients shall make good faith efforts to describe their illness, to truthfully answer questions posed by the health care worker, and to cooperate with the exam to the best of their ability.
    • Patients have the responsibility to understand the consequences of their lifestyles.
    • Patients shall not require or expect that health care workers be able to quickly reverse the effects of years of poor lifestyle choices.
    • Patients are responsible for following the physician's treatment plan or to accept personal responsibility for deviations from that plan.
    • Patients are responsible for their behavior. They shall follow hospital regulations and be considerate and respectful of other patients, hospital personnel, property, and the rights of others. They shall follow the laws of the land or suffer the same consequences as any other person.
    • Patients are responsible for asking questions or asking for clarification when instructions are not clear to them.

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    The article, “Is It Time to Stop Using Warfarin for DVT?” in the September issue misstated the dose of rivaroxaban given to one of the groups in the New England Journal of Medicine study. (2010;363[26]:2499.) Patients were given 15 mg bid for three weeks and then 20 mg per day for the duration of therapy. See a corrected version of the article at EMN apologizes for the error.

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