Each year, nearly three million Medicare beneficiaries are hospitalized for a serious condition and discharged to a post acute setting such as a skilled nursing facility, care services provided through a home health or hospice agency, or an outpatient therapy provider. For many of these patients, the transition from hospital to postacute care starts with being asked to decide where and from whom they will receive critical care, just as they are beginning the transition out of the hospital from the preceding health event.
Anyone who has ever had to make this decision or assisted a loved one in choosing a healthcare provider has likely asked the question: “Why is this so hard?” A lot is at stake at the time of hospital discharge, and there are typically numerous options, spanning a variety of care settings (for example, skilled nursing facilities, home health, hospice care, outpatient clinics, or a rehab facilities). The decision often needs to be made quickly, with little time to collect quality information or visit with potential providers. But don’t let this pressure force you to make a rash decision! As a patient or loved one of a patient, it’s important that you know your rights.
What is Patient Choice?
All patients have the right to choose the provider who renders health care services to them. This is typically in reference to patient referrals from physicians and hospitals. Physicians and hospitals often refer patients to specialists, skilled care facilities, home health care agencies, or other health care professionals for further care outside of their expertise or ability to provide continuity of care. Thanks to The Balanced Budget Act of 1997, as a condition of participation under the health care program, hospitals are required to provide a list of available providers that are in the patient's geographic area and are Medicare certified.
How do I exercise my right to choose?
Your basic patient rights include:
The right to information about quality: You can look up information about doctors’ credentials, statistics regarding hospitals and clinics, and what your health plan covers in easy-to-understand language.
The right to choose a healthcare provider: In addition to your primary healthcare provider, this also covers specialists, who are generally physician-referred. Ask for a list of providers in your area to choose from.
The right to emergency services: You can’t be denied treatment in an emergency.
The right to make decisions: It’s up to you to decide which course of treatment you want to follow, if at all.
The right to respect: You must be treated with respect regardless of your sex, age, race, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability.
The right to confidentiality: Your health information is private and cannot be released without your consent.
The right to complain: All providers (insurance, physicians, clinics and hospitals, etc.) must have a grievance procedure.
Ultimately, the choice is YOURS!
Here at Haven Healthcare, we are firm believers in a patient's’ right to choose as the quality of care and comfort is what is most important. Stress and emotions are already high for those involved in the decision making process, you shouldn’t be pressured into making a choice you aren’t comfortable with. There are many options for post acute care, including home health, hospice and physical therapy. When it comes down to it, just remember three things: You have the right to ASK questions, RESEARCH your options, and make your OWN decision. As strong advocates of patient choice, we ultimately want you to be educated and confident in your decisions.
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Or give us a call at (417) 581-1234 to discuss your rights!