Kidney School™—a program of Medical Education Institute, Inc.

Module 14—Patient Rights and Responsibilities

Gold scale

Having rights also means having responsibilities. For you, this means the "job" of being an active partner in your health care. Active partners do more learning, listening, speaking, and decision-making than people who let their doctor or care team do it all for them.

Your payoff is much bigger when you are an active partner because:

  • You'll be less afraid of health problems, because you're always learning about new ways to take care of yourself
  • Your health may be better
  • You'll feel more in control of your life—you are the one deciding
  • You will have more hope for the future

Here's what one patient says about how he stays involved in his standard in-center hemodialysis (HD) care:

My nurses are great. I usually have my flow sheet filled in before they put my needles in and then they can program the machine. I always have them move the machine so I can see the numbers and I can reach to take my blood pressure if I start feeling 'funny'! I usually beat them to the punch and have the vitals filled in before they come by every half hour. They have come to realize that I know my body well enough even when their machines don't detect problems; if things aren't perfect then I make sure they get as close to perfect as is possible at any given time.

In this module, we will walk you through the key rights and responsibilities you have as a kidney patient. These fall into three main areas:

  1. Seeking information
  2. Taking part in your care and treatment
  3. Being treated with respect and dignity

As we tell you about each right, we will also help tell you about your job, so you can get the most benefit from each one. Your starting point is learning what your rights are.

For years, the brothers in our story were poor because they didn't know they had rights to their father's land. Once they knew, they each decided how to use their rights. One did well and the other did not. Our goal is to help you to live well with the rights that belong to you.

Note: You have some rights under Federal regulations that govern dialysis clinics. You have other rights under Federal law. Other rights may vary according to State law.

So, let's get started!

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