In states like New Jersey, Washington, California and others, residents are given the protection of what is known as a Patient’s Bill of Rights. These are state laws that mandate certain rights and responsibilities for those people seeking medical care. The laws apply to an array of medical facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes, rehab facilities and many others. Unfortunately, South Carolina does not have a comprehensive Patient’s Bill of Rights.
What rights do patients have?
Though there is no comprehensive Patient’s Bill of Rights for those in South Carolina, the good news is that certain facets of the medical industry must comply with rules regarding their patients’ care. I have highlighted several of the specifically enumerated rights below.
Though lawmakers have not mandated a common Patient’s Bill of Rights, hospitals throughout South Carolina have implemented their own. These rights and responsibilities are found on most medical facilities’ websites and are also available in-person. The regulations explain that patients are owed respectful and considerate care and have the right to be treated with dignity. Patients also have the right to make informed decisions about their care and be notified about the progress of their treatment. Patients are also obligated to provide complete and accurate information about their medical histories, as well as to communicate any concerns or questions they might have about their care.
South Carolina regulations mandate that in certain settings, for example, office-based surgery centers, that there be a Patient’s Bill of Rights. In cases where procedures take place in a non-hospital office-based setting, the South Carolina Department of Labor has a requirement that a Patient’s Bill of Rights be in place. Staff must recognize the basic rights of patients and must understand the importance of maintaining these rights. The law also requires the documents to be made available immediately upon request by a patient.
Mental health facilities
Back in 2001, officials with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health created its own Patient’s Bill of Rights. The guidelines apply to anyone seeking in-patient treatment at a South Carolina mental health facility. These rights include things like having information kept confidential, being protected from unreasonable searches and the right to participate in your treatment plan. Additionally, patients have the responsibility to participate in their treatment, ask questions, attend appointments and show respect to others.
Long-term care facilities
Nursing home and other long-term care facilities are oneexception where lawmakers have gone out of their way to craft a specific Bill of Rights that all facilities must operate under. Title 44 of South Carolina Code deals with theserights and is referred to as the “Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities.”
The rules state that residents of these long-term care facilities must be given a written and oral explanation of their rights as well as the procedures needed to file grievances against the operators of the facilities. Rights must also be posted in public locations in the facilities and they must be easily readable by residents.
The rights afforded to patients include the right to choose a physician, to participate in care and treatment plans, to be fully informed of changes in care and treatment, to receive updates on the resident’s prognosis and to refuse to participate in experimental research. The law also says that residents must be treated with respect and dignity and given privacy during treatment and personal care. The family members or guardians of those in the facilities must be allowed access to the resident and residents must be allowed to meet and participate in social or religious activities of their choosing.
These rules, along with many others, protect those in South Carolina nursing homes and long-term care facilities, among the most vulnerable of all patient populations. Though we might wish all medical patients in South Carolina were afforded such protection, lawmakers have not gotten around to extending those rights just yet.
If you believe you, or someone you know, have suffered from medical malpractice while under the care of a doctor or hospital, contact medical malpractice lawyer David Aylor at 843-744-4444, or click the “LIVE CHAT” button on this page.