When patients access healthcare, they expect certain rights. Some of these patients also realize that along with those patient's rights, they have responsibilities, too. When those rights are violated, they have the ability to pursue justice through the legal system. Patients' rights have difference in some aspects. There are few rights that are clearly spelled out, except those that regard privacy or the ability to obtain medical records. Individual states have enacted other laws that usually impact only hospital care. More often, individual facilities (like hospitals) or physician practices will offer up their own list of patients' rights. However, it's unclear as to whether those could ever be enforced if there is a problem. However, there are a number of rights that are accepting as being true, even though they may not be officially recorded anywhere. Some are simply based on respect. Others are based on our responsibilities as human beings. Others have evolved as the need warrants. Among one's rights as a patient is the right to make decisions about the course of treatment received, as well as to know about all reasonable alternative treatments. One also has the right, as a competent adult, to refuse any proposed treatment, even if doing so may mean that one will become sicker or even die. All health care providers have a legal and ethical duty to maintain the confidentiality of a patient's records. Nevertheless, it is not realistic to expect that all medical records will remain secret. Even on a need-to-know basis, many individuals will have access to a patient's medical records. For this reason, it is important that extremely sensitive information about the patient be safeguarded. The entitlement of patients' rights is accompanied by patients' responsibilities, too. In order to get the best care, and find the most successful medical outcomes, patients must adhere to these responsibilities.
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