Healthcare and You: 3 Legal Situations to Be Aware Of
In today's world, healthcare has become very complex. Not only does it involve questions about insurance coverage, but also questions involving patient privacy rights, prescription rules, and medical marijuana options and end-of-life practices. While these and many others are ones you may face at some point in the future, there are some legal situations involving healthcare you may want to be aware of in order to make an informed decision.
Personal Medical Information
One of the most private areas of healthcare involves a patient's medical records. Rules regarding medical ethics, along with state laws and federal HIPAA laws, require doctors and other medical personnel to keep a patient's medical records confidential, unless the patient has provided authorization to release the information. However, that is not always the case under certain circumstances. For example, if you have suffered a traumatic injury and cannot make decisions for yourself, the doctor is allowed to discuss your medical information with a next of kin. This is done in order to allow full disclosure and let the relative make the best possible decision, based on the facts and circumstances.
Death With Dignity
While physician-assisted suicide is not a constitutional right, some states have authorized it under specific circumstances. Always a controversial topic, it focuses on a person's right to due process of law. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the due process clause protects a person's right to refuse medical treatment, even if it leads to the patient's death. For those who have an interest in law and want additional information on any sort of healthcare topic, they often turn to online health law programs to help them learn more. Learning the details of specific healthcare situations is always to your advantage.
Needless to say, before a patient begins any course of treatment for a condition or disease, they want to know exactly what are the pros and cons associated with it, along with any alternatives that may be available. Known as informed consent, it is vital to establishing trust between a doctor and patient. Because the doctor has a duty to provide as much information as possible to the patient, it also places some responsibility on the patient to ask questions and make it clear they understand everything prior to signing any consent forms.
By having a greater awareness of these issues, patients will be able to not only make better healthcare decisions, but also receive better treatment from their healthcare providers.