The cancer journey that you will be on is a very personal one. Other people will suggest, sometimes even strongly, that you should use certain treatments, institutions, or doctors. Some of these may be very good suggestions. Others you may disagree with entirely. My life, and certainly the quality of my life, depend upon my making sound decisions for my health care and the treatment of my cancer. I always thank those who give me suggestions. I gather as much information as I can. And when the final decision is to be made, I make that decision for myself, sometimes in the face of disagreement from the professionals and others.
The most important lesson I have learned in my cancer journey is that I have a right to make choices about my body, how I treat it, and how I let others treat it. I have a right to say No if I think I can not, or will not, endure the rigors of a given treatment. And I have a right to ask for a treatment that I believe will help me. Don't be afraid to talk to your health care professionals openly and honestly about your own choices and make suggestions based on your own research.
When you are admitted to the hospital, ask for a copy of their Patient Bill of Rights. Here is a Bill of Rights that is commonly endorsed by most US hospitals:
» The patient has the right to considerate and respectful care.
» The patient has the right to obtain from his/her physician complete current information concerning his/her diagnosis, treatment and prognosis in terms the patient can be reasonably expected to understand.
» The patient has the right to receive from his/her physician information necessary to give informed consent prior to the start of any procedure and/or treatment.
» The patient has the right to refuse treatment to the extent permitted by law, and to be informed of the medical consequences of his/her action.
» The patient has the right to every consideration of his privacy concerning his/her own medical care program.
» The patient has the right to expect that all communications and records pertaining to his/her care should be treated as confidential.
» The patient has the right to expect that within its capacity a hospital must make reasonable response to the request of a patient.
» The patient has the right to obtain information as to any relationship of his/her hospital to other health care and educational institutions insofar as his/her care is concerned.
» The patient has the right to be advised if the hospital proposes to engage in or perform human experimentation affecting his/her care or treatment.
» The patient has the right to expect reasonable continuity of care.
» The patient has the right to examine and receive an explanation of his/her bill regardless of source of payment.
» The patient has the right to know what hospital rules and regulations apply to his/her conduct as a patient.
To learn more, visit these websites.
Patient Bill of Rights - for Medicare and Medicaid circa 1999
Patient Rights Program - click the red links in this paragraph to go to other resources. Visit the links to the left also.