Firm News & Events arrow The Maryland Hospital Patient's Bill Of Rights

Paul M. D'Amore
Paul M. D'Amore

Founding Member, Trial Lawyer

The Maryland Hospital Patient's Bill Of Rights

The MD Hospital Patient Bill of Rights Is Here!

After years of fighting for consumer protection for hospital patients, the Hospital Patient’s Bill of Rights is finally set to be signed into law! According to an article by The Washington Post, the bill was successfully pushed through the Maryland Senate on March 27 after already passing through the House of Delegates and now waits to be signed by Governor Hogan. This step is monumental for Maryland patients who have faced significant hardships and health consequences by being kept in the dark when it comes to their hospital care. The passing of this bill will not only create more transparency for patients but will allow them to fully understand their health care rights and give them ultimate control over their health

The Need For More Patient Rights

Most patients would like to believe their health is in good hands at a hospital. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Over 650,000 Marylanders are admitted to state hospitals every year and millions of others are seen in outpatient centers and emergency rooms according to Maryland Patient Rights. Health care professionals in charge of patient care do not choose treatments that are best for the patient. While some medical professionals can be completely negligent, others are so desensitized to their job they forget they are working with people, making decisions such as neglecting to communicate plans or explain procedures in words they can understand, choosing procedures based on convenience, or only giving one option for a problem that may have multiple approaches.

In 2015, Maryland hospitals tied for last place in a patient satisfaction survey conducted by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services that analyzed patient care across the country. Patient satisfaction was measured in three different categories, including:

Composite Topics

  • Doctor communication
  • Nurse communication
  • Communication about medicines
  • Responsiveness of hospital staff
  • Discharge information
  • Care transition

 Individual Topics

  • Quietness of a hospital environment
  • Cleanliness of a hospital environment

Global Topics

  • Hospital rating
  • Willingness to recommend a hospital

Patients have the right to be treated with respect and dignity in a hospital. They should be provided with choices on their care, which includes the choice to opt out of procedures if they do not believe in the course of treatment that is being offered. Patients do not have to put up with staff who hurts them or does not communicate appropriately during care. They have the right to a clean and safe environment with minimal errors- but how do patients know this if they are not informed? 

What The Bill Will Accomplish

Patients should never have to settle for low-quality health care but many do every day, and most without realizing they have a choice. There are 27 states so far in our country who have developed a comprehensive and transparent bill of rights for patients to help them understand their own health- Maryland is not one of them. This means that Maryland hospitals are currently under no obligation to inform patients of their rights when it comes to inpatient, outpatient, and emergency care. In addition, every hospital is run differently, meaning patients may find their rights differ between two institutions in the same state causing massive confusion and unnecessary errors to occur.

When the Hospital Patient’s Bill of Rights is signed in law, hospitals will be required to provide patients with a comprehensive explanation of their lawful rights in a language they can comprehend and understand. These rights include:

  • Respectful care.
  • Clean and safe treatment facilities.
  • Complete and current diagnosis information.
  • The ability to made decisions regarding your own health care.
  • An itemized bill with all charges.
  • The ability to make a complaint of grievance with fear.

 The more patients understand their rights the better they are able to stand up for their health. Not every doctor and medical professional knows what is best patients. By informing them of their rights, patients can make decisions about their health based on their own beliefs and values, without feeling pressured or tricked into procedures they disagree with. 

Educating patients on their health care rights can also have a significant effect on preventable medical errors leading to injuries. Most patients would like to believe their health is in good hands at a hospital but mistakes can and do occur. It’s important for patients to be informed about their care and to feel in control of what is going to happen to their body. When patients understand their rights, they can make educated decisions regarding their health and may be able to spot mistakes medical professionals are making before they cause serious damage.

Concerns About The Bill

According to The Washington Post article, the University of Maryland Medical System (U.M.M.S.) has been actively opposing the Hospital Patient’s Bill of Rights since the beginning. Most of their oppositions are tied to the topic of funding, criticizing about how much money it will take to pay for signage to inform patients of their rights. Luckily, supporters of the bill believe the cost will be well worth the risk for Marylanders. No patient should feel talked down to or out of control of their own health care. Without the full information on their rights, patients are left in the hands of doctors and medical staff, some who may not have their best interests in mind.   

Protect Your Health MD

 Marylanders do not have to wait for the Hospital Patient’s Bill of Rights to be officially signed to start advocating for their health. Reviewing a copy of the bill here can help you get a head start on knowing your rights and how you can protect yourself and your family from mistreatment during hospital care.

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