Understand your rights to get the best health care
(NC)—When seeing a health care provider, the ability to learn about that person's background and ask questions is helpful. Did you know that this is your right? You can count on this when you're dealing with one of Ontario's 260,000 regulated health professionals.
“Knowing what you're entitled to as patients or clients can help you get the best and most appropriate care possible,” says Linda Gough, president of the Federation of Health Regulatory Colleges of Ontario (FHRCO).
FHRCO is made up of 26 regulatory colleges (www.regulatedhealthprofessions.on.ca). Each college holds its member professionals accountable for their conduct and practice, sets requirements for entering the profession and standards for practicing, and administers quality assurance programs.
All of that helps to maintain a high level of care in Ontario. What kinds of rights do you have? It starts with the right to receive safe, competent and ethical care. More specifically, consider this:
• Be clear about your problems and treatments. You have the right to have health matters explained, pose questions, and participate in health care decisions. You can also refuse consent for any procedure (for any reason, at any time), learn about treatment options/alternatives, and ask for a second opinion.
• Know what happens to your information. Part of your rights includes an assurance that you personal information will stay protected and confidential. You're entitled to see and get a copy of your own personal health information.
• Know who is caring for you. You're entitled to learn if your care provider is registered with their health regulatory body, their credentials and title, and other information that's available on each college's public register.
• Clarify the costs. Another key right is having any fees or other costs explained to you.
One of your most important rights if dealing with a regulated health care professional is to be heard if you have any issues. You can formally raise concerns or complaints about your care through the professional's regulatory college. See the FHRCO website for links to all of the colleges, where you can also learn about standards for the professions.
As citizens and consumers, Canadians cherish all sorts of rights from the workplace to the marketplace. In health care, the focus on rights is growing too.
“The mission of the regulated health care colleges is protecting the public,” says Gough. “Knowing your rights makes you a partner in getting the quality health care you deserve.”
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