Hospitals are complex organizations that deliver critical care to thousands of people every week. The modern hospital could not run without complex lists of policies and regulations that cover everything from employee conduct to visiting hours. These policies often serve as a crucial source of rights for patients, especially when hospitals fail to follow their own regulations.
Hospital staff sometimes need to restrain patients against their will. Hospitals should have policies in place to explain different types of restraint, such as chemical or physical. Because restraint is technically a battery, hospitals need to carefully distinguish when it is appropriate to restrain a patient and the maximum force used. Usually, policies call for the least restrictive measures to be used first, escalating to physical restraint only if necessary.
Rights to Respect & Dignity
Many hospitals publish a list of patient rights and responsibilities, and rights regarding dignity usually top the list. Speaking practically, these policies require that patients receive courteous care free of harassment, abuse, or neglect. No staff member can verbally threaten you, belittle you, or sexually harass you at the hospital.
Dignity also covers client confidentiality—though federal laws also mandate confidentiality of records. In fact, the federal government can fine hospitals severely for compromising patient confidentiality.
Patients deserve to make informed medical decisions, which means they must receive the relevant information to help them decide what treatment to have if any. Of course, Pennsylvania law also requires that doctors receive informed consent before providing care, so hospital policies augment the state law.
Generally, patients must have a procedure described to them, be told of the most relevant risks, and be offered alternatives.
Internal Communication Policies
Doctors need accurate patient information to provide competent care. Most hospitals have processes in place regarding internal communication, data entry, and patient records. The goal is to streamline communication while ensuring its accuracy. If a staff member fails to follow the procedure, the risk of an error increases substantially.
Infection Control Policies
Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are a serious problem. Some bacteria are resistant to antibiotics and could be deadly. Hospitals have created detailed policies for limiting the spread of HAIs, including:
- Hand hygiene
- Face protection
- Waste disposal
- Separation of patients with infections
With the rise of COVID, many hospitals have created policies specifically for this virus.
Hospitals often limit visitation to certain hours so that they do not impede the provision of care. With COVID, many have adopted even more stringent visitation policies which limit who can enter the hospital and whether they need to wear personal protection equipment, like a mask. Visitations also protect those in the hospital from the risk of violence from a stranger.
What to Do if a Hospital Violates its Policies
Hospitals are hectic places, so rules and regulations do get broken. Unfortunately, innocent patients suffer the results. The attorneys at Cohen, Placitella & Roth, PC understand what legal remedies are available, such as damages for medical care, pain, and suffering, and lost income.
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