Legal Rights and Responsibilities

An essential part of hospice care has to do with the legal rights and responsibilities involved with the provision of this service. It is crucial that a patient and their family must be aware of the various legal implications that are involved with hospice care so as to avoid any potential confusion with the law, as well as know the rights they are entitled to should any of them be infringed upon. Taking the time to go through all paper work related to a hospice service provider is one effective way of gaining such knowledge.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Any valid hospice provider will take the matter of privacy and confidentiality with the highest regard. It is essential that a hospice adequately protects the information that they are provided with by a patient and ensure that it does not fall into the wrong hands. Most information provided will include a section that states that the hospice will only be able to provide health and other personal information belonging to a patient upon the authorisation of the said patient, or that of an individual with a valid similar authority. The hospice may also provide such information if required to by law when dealing with legal circumstances.

A hospice is otherwise required to treat any information given to them with the highest confidentiality and it is their legal duty to ensure the protection of such information. This protection is carried out via the implication of various related policies, as well as the implementation of security measures on their databases to prevent any unauthorised access. Patients considering hospice care should rest assured that their information will be safe in the hands of the service provider that they choose for their requirements.

Patients’ Rights

There are a number of rights that are due to any patient that chooses to implement the option of hospice care. As mentioned earlier, it is important that a patient is aware of these rights so as to know when they are being infringed upon. Some of the rights that have been granted to patients of hospice care have been developed and designed to ensure that an individual has a say in the implementation of the hospice services on offer. Some of these rights include:

• A patient has the right to choose the doctor that will oversee the programmes that will be implemented in their hospice care.
• They also have the right to receive effective pain medication and symptom management in relation to the terminal illness that they are suffering from.
• A patient holds the right to refuse a particular treatment or kind of care should they not wish it and cannot be forced or coerced into accepting it.
• A patient has the right to be involved in the planning of the kind of hospice care that they will receive upon their induction.
• A patient holds the right to the privacy and confidentiality of their medical records.
• They also have the right to be free of any kind of mistreatment, abuse or neglect from the hospice care provider.
• A patient has the right to any information regarding the hospice care they will receive including the scope and limitations of the services involved.

Patient and Family Responsibilities

In order for any kind of hospice care to be effective, the patient and their family or allotted volunteer caregiver will need to be aware of any responsibilities that they may have on their part with regard to the services offered. The responsibilities of the patient and his/her family will vary depending on the kind of hospice care that they are receiving. The main responsibilities, however, will remain the same and include:

• Following the directives of the attendant physician with regard to medication and any other related activities.
• Ensuring that they do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of the hospice care provider through their actions.
• Informing the hospice care provider and/or the related physician of any changes that might occur with regard to the patient and their condition.
• Complying with the activities involved in the agreed upon programme designed for the patient.
• Providing the patient with emotional and physical support when necessary.
• Informing the hospice care provider of any concerns, needs or complaints that they may have with regard to the patient’s condition and the services offered.