Do you know your health care rights?
(NC) When it comes to your health care, how do you view yourself?
“You're not just a patient or client, but a health care consumer,” says Linda Gough, president of the Federation of Health Regulatory Colleges of Ontario (FHRCO). “For any consumer, it's important to understand and exercise your rights.”
In Ontario, you can expect certain standards when dealing with regulated health care professionals. Here are eight things you're entitled to:
• Safe, competent and ethical care. In Ontario, there are 26 regulatory colleges. They set the requirements for entering the profession, create practice standards, run quality assurance programs, and enforce standards of practice and conduct for their nearly 300,000 member professionals. That helps ensure you receive high levels of skill, knowledge and judgment.
• Participation in your care. “It's your right to ask questions, and get clear explanations of your health issues and treatment options,” says Gough. “That's a fundamental part of being involved in your health care decisions.”
• Informed consent. It means that after receiving an explanation, you can agree to or refuse any procedure, for any reason, at any time.
• A second opinion. You have the right to seek advice from another health care professional.
• Your health care professional's record. You can easily access information about their registration with a health regulatory college, Each college has a public register that lists their members' qualifications, special designations, restrictions on their practice (if any), and more. A link to the colleges is available at www.regulatedhealthprofessions.on.ca.
• Privacy. You can be assured that your personal health information remains confidential. At the same time, you have the right to view and get a copy of that information.
• An open discussion of costs and fees. Your health care provider should explain anything that you're paying for.
• Voice any concerns about the care you have received. Through a regulatory health college, you can raise any issues about your care, and formally complain if desired. “The colleges protect the public by holding each member professionally accountable for their conduct and practice,” says Gough.
You can learn about the standards for any of the regulated health care professions – part of your rights too – on the website of their college.
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