Patient Care

Patient Rights

Patient Rights
Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities (Florida)

According to the preamble of the Florida Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities:
“It is a public policy of the state that the interests of patients be recognized in a patient’s bill of rights and responsibilities and that a health care facility or health care provider may not require a patient to waive his or her rights as a condition of treatment.” (FL Stat 381.026)

One of those rights is “individual dignity” and, as a part of that right, the law states: “Every patient who is provided health care services retains certain rights to privacy, which must be respected without regard to the patient’s economic status or source of payment for his or her care. The patient’s rights to privacy must be respected to the extent consistent with providing adequate medical care to the patient and with the efficient administration of the health care facility or provider’s office.”

Similarly to HIPAA’s broad general exception for treatment uses and disclosures (and its specific exception for incidental uses and disclosures), the statute adds that there is no intent to “preclude necessary and discreet discussion of a patient’s case or examination by appropriate medical personnel.”

Patients have a right to express grievances to a health care provider, a health care facility, or the appropriate state licensing agency regarding alleged violations of their rights. This includes the right to know the health care provider’s or health care facility’s procedures for expressing a grievance.

Health care providers and facilities must make available to patents a written statement of these rights and responsibilities. The statute’s model language for this notice lists the statute’s rights and responsibilities, beginning with this one: “A patient has the right to be treated with courtesy and respect, with appreciation of his or her individual dignity, and with protection of his or her need for privacy.”

The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) is obligated to keep a supply of model notices available for providers and facilities to distribute. Health care facilities must adopt policies and procedures to ensure that patients are provided the opportunity, during the course of admission, to receive information regarding their rights, including how to file complaints with the facility and appropriate state agencies.

It must be admitted that Florida’s statutes and regulations do not address patient privacy with perfect consistency. Some parts stipulate tight controls over information while others grant broad exemptions for certain kinds of use and disclosure. In part this reflects an inevitable tradeoff for conflicting goals, and the incremental construction of state statutes without an eye to overall congruence.

However, the overall requirements for privacy, and a specific requirement for a notice of rights, are broadly congruent with HIPAA’s provisions.