Patient Rights and Responsibilities
We consider you a partner in your hospital care. When you are well-informed, take part in treatment decisions, and talk openly with your doctor and other health professionals, you help make your care as effective as possible. This hospital respects your personal preferences and values.
Patients have the right to privacy, including the right to:
- Request confidential communication by alternative means or locations. For example, you may request that nothing be mailed to your home address or that you be contacted only at your work phone number.
- Receive a Notice of Privacy Practices describing how your protected health information (all personal and medical information) is used and disclosed for treatment, payment, and healthcare operations purposes.
- Expect that the information contained in your medical records is confidential and will be used by WVUH only for the purposes of treatment, payment, or healthcare operations. Protected health information will not be disclosed for any other purposes unless you give permission to release the information, or reporting is required by law.
- Restrict access to your protected health information to the extent permitted by law.
- Review the protected health information in your medical records, receive a copy, and to have the information explained, except when restricted by law.
- Receive an accounting of all disclosures of your protected health information going back six years from the date of your request for such an accounting.
Patients also have the right to:
- Be cared for with consideration and respect in a safe environment.
- Be well informed about their illness, possible treatments, and likely outcomes and to discuss this information with their doctor
- Have a family member and/or your personal physician be notified that you’ve been admitted to the hospital.
- Know the names and roles of people treating them
- Have an advance directive
- Receive information about pain management measures and to have staff respond quickly to their reports of pain
- Expect that the hospital will give them necessary health services to the best of its ability. If treatment referral or transfer is recommended, patients have the right to be informed of the risks, benefits, and alternatives
- Know if this hospital has relationships with outside parties that may influence their treatment and care
- Consent or decline to take part in research affecting your care.
- Be told of realistic care alternatives when hospital care is no longer appropriate.
- Know about hospital rules that affect your treatment and about charges and payment methods.
- Know about hospital resources, such as patient representatives or the ethics committee, that can help you resolve problems and questions about your hospital stay and care.
- Consent or decline to take part in research. Your decision will not have an impact on your care.
- Be as free as possible of pain or other distressing symptoms. You may call the Palliative Care team any time at 304-293-7618
- Ask a patient advocate to help you resolve any problems.
Patients have the responsibility to:
- Provide information about their health, including past illnesses, hospital stays, and use of medication.
- Ask questions when they do not understand information or instructions.
- Ask their physician or nurse what to expect about pain management and to work with them to develop a pain management plan.
- Tell their physician if they cannot follow through with the prescribed treatment.
- Be considerate of the needs of other patients, staff, and the hospital.
- Provide information for insurance and work with the hospital to arrange payment, when needed.
- Recognize the effect of lifestyle on their personal health.
The handling and resolution of a conflict concerning the care of a patient will be dealt with according to West Virginia University Hospital Policy IV.190.
Your Right to Make Decisions About Your Care
West Virginia University Hospitals is committed to providing you with the care you want to receive. Among your rights as a patient is the right to make decisions about your healthcare, except when restricted by law. You have the right to accept or refuse medical and/or surgical treatment. To make these decisions, it is best to consider what is important to you and to discuss these decisions with your family, friends, and doctor.
Palliative Care Services
Palliative Care Services specializes in pain and symptom management for patients with chronic or life-threatening illness. You have the right to be as free as possible of pain and other distressing symptoms, including shortness of breath and nausea. You have the right to make decisions about your healthcare, including the right to accept or refuse life-sustaining treatments, such as feeding tubes, breathing machines, dialysis, and CPR, except when restricted by law.
The Palliative Care team can provide you with information about the benefits and burdens of such treatments and work with hospital staff to be sure you are comfortable and receive the treatment you want. Discuss with your doctor or nurse when consultation with the Palliative Care team may be appropriate. You may call the Palliative Care team at 304-293-7618.
The Role of the Hospital Ethics Committee
West Virginia University Hospitals has an Ethics Committee to help you with difficult decisions and to help resolve conflicts, should they occur, between you and your physician or members of your family.
The Ethics Committee includes doctors, nurses, social workers, ethicists, a hospital administrator, and a hospital chaplain. These professionals have expertise in helping to make healthcare decisions and to resolve conflict. Their advice often has proven to be helpful.
If you would like to talk to the Ethics Committee, we encourage you to ask your doctor or nurse to contact the committee for you. If you wish, you may contact the Ethics Committee by calling 304-293-7618, or page beeper number 304-362-0494.
The Living Will and the Medical Power of Attorney
You also have the right to give directions to your family and physicians about the healthcare you would want in the future should you become unable to make decisions for yourself. These directions are best given in written documents called “advance directives.”
West Virginia has two forms of written advance directives that are recognized by state law: the living will and the medical power of attorney. A living will is a written, witnessed advance directive governing the withholding or withdrawing of life-prolonging intervention, voluntarily completed as required by law.
A “medical power of attorney representative” is someone 18 years of age or older whom you appoint to make healthcare decisions according to the provisions of West Virginia law (or similar laws in other states) when you are unable to make decisions because of illness.
If you have not completed a living will or medical power of attorney document, the hospital encourages you to consider doing so before or shortly after your admission. If you would like help, please let your doctor or nurse know, and they can arrange for you to receive copies of these forms and the information needed to help complete them.
West Virginia University Hospitals recognizes a patient’s right to complete a living will and a medical power of attorney, and it is hospital policy that these documents be respected by hospital personnel. Physicians who cannot in good conscience follow a patient’s directive may ask to be excused from the patient’s care. Transfer of the patient’s care to another physician will be arranged.
Completion of advance directives is voluntary, and it is not a condition for admission to the hospital or for your continued stay in the hospital.
If you choose not to complete an advance directive and become too sick to make decisions for yourself, the hospital will follow the West Virginia Health Care Decisions Act of 2000 in selecting a surrogate to assist in making medical decision for you. By law, the surrogate is usually a close family member or a friend. If you want a specific individual to make decisions for you if you become too sick to make them yourself, please inform your physician.
We are committed to providing the highest quality of care at West Virginia University Hospitals. If you have an unsatisfactory experience, please let us know. You can call the patient advocate at 304-598-4167, the nurse manager on your unit, or the hospital administrator at 304-598-4200.
If the hospital does not respond to your complaint to your satisfaction, or if you are unhappy for another reason, you may contact:
Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification
(to report violations and to request an inspection of the facility)
WV Department of Health and Human Resources
1 Davis Square, Suite 101
Charleston, WV 25301-1799
Protective Services (Child and Adult)
WV Department of Health and Human Resources
350 Capitol St., Room 691
Charleston, WV 25301
Abuse Hotline (child and adult)
West Virginia Advocates, Inc.
1207 Quarrier St.
Charleston, WV 25301
c/o West Virginia Commission on Aging
Charleston Towne Center Mall
1900 Kanawha Blvd. East
Charleston, WV 25305
Legal Aid of West Virginia (local representative)
153 Holland Ave.
Westover, WV 26501
Medicare Quality Improvement Organization (QID)
(for concerns about the quality of care received under the Medicaid Program)
West Virginia Medical Institute
3001 Chesterfield Avenue
Charleston, WV 25304-1100
Mail: Office of Quality and Patient Safety
The Joint Commission
One Renaissance Boulevard
Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois 60181