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What are my rights as a patient?

A patient is anyone who has requested or received health services from care facilities. Care facilities include, but are not limited to: community health centers, hospitals, dental offices, and drug stores, such as CVS. As a patient, you have certain rights related to your care. Some of your rights include the following:

Right to Informed Consent. If you need medical treatment, your doctor must give you necessary information about the treatment, such as possible benefits and risks, to help you make decisions.

Right to Medical Records. Generally, your provider must give you your medical records if you request them. But there may be a process to follow, such as putting your request in writing, and you may have to pay a fee for copies.

Right to Privacy. Your provider must keep all your medical records and other important information, such as your social security number, confidential unless you allow them to release the information. You may want them to release your information, for example, if another doctor needs to see your records. In that case, you would sign a release form to give permission to share your information with a specific person or organization.

Right to Emergency Services. If you need immediate help with a serious health problem, you may seek emergency services from any emergency room location even if you cannot afford it.

Right to Make Decisions. You have the right to agree to or refuse treatment.

Right to Choose End-of-Life Care. You have the right to sign advance directives, called living wills or health care power of attorney. These documents allow you to provide instructions to providers about your health care wishes if you cannot communicate yourself. Care providers must follow your directions in these properly signed documents. More information about advance directives is online at

Right to Safe Health Care Environment. You have the right to be treated with courtesy and respect and to be free from verbal or physical abuse or harassment while in a care setting.

If your rights have been violated, you may have the option to file a complaint at the place where you got treatment. Ask to speak with a patients’ rights advocate or request a copy of the complaint procedure. Also, you may complain to the Office of the Ohio Attorney General. Visit to file a complaint or report patient abuse; or contact the Office at Patient Abuse/Neglect Intake Officer; Office of the Attorney General; 150 E. Gay St., 17th Floor; Columbus, OH 43215; Phone: (800) 282-0515; Fax: 877-527-1305.


This article was written by D'Erra Jackson and appeared in The Alert: Volume 31, Issue 2. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!

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