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Patient Rights & Responsibilities

Patient Rights & Responsibilities

Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Patient

DCH respects the rights of our patients. We strive to provide care in a considerate and respectful manner based on each patient's individual needs. The following is a summary of your rights and responsibilities as a patient. Some of the rights and responsibilities listed may be limited by law or special circumstances. If you would like complete information on your rights and responsibilities, please contact a Patient Liaison or a nurse.

Patient Rights

You have the right to designate a patient representative to assist you with your health care decisions or to otherwise assist you during your admission.

You and/or your patient representative have the right:

  1. To request, accept, or refuse treatment; the right to complete information about your health status in terms you can understand; the right to be included in planning for your care; and the right to ask questions about your health care.
  2. To be informed about the outcomes of your care, including unexpected outcomes.
  3. To the treatment or accommodations that you need, if DCH has the capacity to provide it regardless of your age, race, creed, national origin, religion, sex, disability, ability to pay, or how you pay your bill.
  4. To make, review, and revise an advance directive and to have assistance in formulating an advance directive if you desire. You have the right to information about DCH's policies on advance directives as listed in this brochure. Your choices concerning advanced directives will be placed in your medical record. However, access to and quality of care, treatment, or services will not be affected whether or not you have an advance directive. If you desire assistance or further information about advance directives, please contact a nurse or Patient Liaison.
  5. To have visitors of your choice and to communicate with those outside hospital. You have the right to designate a visitation support person to assist you with decisions concerning who will visit you while you are in the hospital.
  6. To receive health care in a manner that respects your personal, religious, cultural, and social preferences. Ask your nurse if you want counseling about or assistance with these issues.
  7. To know who is caring for you and what kind of professional they are; to know what physician is primarily responsible for your care; to know the professional relationships of the people who are treating you; and to know the relationship of any other health care or educational institutions involved in your care.
  8. To participate when ethical issues are considered about your care.
  9. To have someone you choose and your own physician notified promptly of your admission to the hospital.
  10. To information about your patient rights and the procedure to file complaints about the quality of care. Please see information below for information about questions, concerns, and complaints.
  11. To appropriate assessment and management of pain.
  12. To know if you are part of an experiment or other research/educational project that may affect your care or treatment. You have the right to refuse to be a part of any such activity.
  13. To privacy concerning your medical information. Your medical information will be kept confidential as required by and within the limits of the law. Detailed information about these practices can be found in the DCH Health System's Joint Notice of Privacy Practices.
  14. To the information in your medical records as far as the law allows. We will provide access to your health information within a reasonable time frame.
  15. To have your bill explained to you no matter how your bill will be paid.
  16. To be safe at DCH.
  17. To be free from neglect; exploitation; and verbal, mental, physical and sexual abuse.
  18. To be free from the use of restraints (devices or medications used for the sole purpose of restricting freedom of movement) that are not medically necessary.
  19. To personal privacy and dignity during all aspects of your care at DCH including bathing, dressing, toileting, and medical treatments.
  20. To information about your care presented in a manner that you can understand. For example, interpretation services should be provided if you are a non-English speaking patient, if you request it; and alternative communication techniques or aides should be provided if you are deaf or blind, and you request it.
  21. To expect reasonable continuity of care; when it is time to leave the hospital, to know why you are being discharged; to know what care or services you will need after discharge and how to get the services you need; and to receive this information in a way that you understand.
  22. To make your wishes known about organ donation and to have your wishes followed.

Patient Responsibilities

  1. You are responsible for giving the people who are taking care of you and your physician the most complete and correct information about present health problems and past medical history.
  2. You are responsible for telling your physician or other health care providers whether you understand your treatment plan and what you are to do as you participate in the plan.You are responsible for following the treatment plan given to you by your physician. This may include following the instructions of nurses and other health care personnel as they carry out the plan of care. You are responsible for keeping appointments and, when you are unable to do so, for canceling and rescheduling those appointments.
  3. You are responsible for your actions if you refuse treatment or do not follow instructions.
  4. You are responsible for seeing that your health care bills are paid as quickly as possible.
  5. You are responsible for following DCH's policies. Your actions must be responsible and considerate of others while at DCH.
  6. You are responsible for your belongings. You should also be respectful of the property of others and of the hospital.
  7. You are responsible for reporting any safety concerns you might have regarding your care to a member of the health care team or the Patient Representative.
  8. If you have an advance directive, you are responsible for providing your advance directive information to the hospital.

Patient Questions, Concerns or Complaints

At DCH Regional Medical Center, patients, family members or their representatives with concerns or questions should contact the Patient Liaison at 205-759-7707. After hours, contact the Administrative Supervisor through the hospital operator at 205-759-7111. Questions, concerns or complaints may also be submitted in writing to the Patient Liaison, 809 University Blvd. East, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401.

At Northport Medical Center, contact the Patient Liaison at 205-333-4992. After hours, contact the Administrative Supervisor through the hospital operator at 205-333-4500. Questions, concerns or complaints may also be submitted in writing to the Patient Liaison, 2700 Hospital Drive, Northport, AL 35476.

At Fayette Medical Center, call 205-932-1280 or 205-932-1265 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. After hours, contact the Administrative Supervisor through the hospital operator at 205-932-5966. Questions, concerns, or complaints may also be submitted in writing to the Administrator, 1653 Temple Ave., Fayette, AL 35555-1314.

Questions, concerns, or complaints that cannot be resolved in a timely manner by the immediate caregivers may be referred to the hospital Grievance Committee for further review and action. You will be informed as to the resolution of your questions, concerns, or complaints.

If you are unable to resolve your concerns about patient care or safety through internal hospital processes, you may contact one of the following organizations:

The Joint Commission (TJC)
Office of Quality and Patient Safety
One Renaissance Boulevard
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
Fax: 630-792-5636
Use the "Report Patient Safety Event" link in the "Action Center" section on the homepage.
Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH)
The RSA Tower
201 Monroe Street
Montgomery, AL 36104

If you are a Medicare beneficiary and you have a concern about quality of care, disagree with a coverage decision or if you wish to appeal a premature discharge, please contact the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization listed below.

5201 West Kennedy Blvd.
Suite 900
Tampa, FL 33609

Making Decisions About Your Health Care When You Can’t Speak for Yourself

Under Alabama law, if you are 19 years of age or older you have the right to decide about your health care. If you are very sick or badly hurt, you may not be able say what medical care you want or don’t want.

If you have an advance directive, your doctor, caregivers, and family will know what medical care you want and who you want to speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself.

Am I permitted to decide what treatment I want or do not want?

Yes. If you are 19 years of age or older, reasonably alert, and can understand your condition and the likely results of your decisions, you have the right to accept or refuse any medical treatment, including lifesaving treatment.

How can I make it known that I do or do not want certain treatment?

You should simply tell your doctor and other health care providers such as your nurses exactly what tests or treatments you want or do not want.

Can I do anything now so that my wishes will be followed if I later become unable to tell my caregivers what I want or don’t want?

You can complete an advance directive, designate someone to speak for you (patient representative or health care proxy), and discuss your wishes with your family and your doctors.

Will I be treated any differently if I decide not to complete and advance directive?

Absolutely not. It is against the law for a health care provider to treat a patient differently based on his or her decisions about an advance directive.

Are hospitals required to follow an advance directive?

Yes. Hospitals are required by law to ask a patient if he or she has an advance directive, and hospitals are required to follow the advance directive if the hospital is given a copy. If a hospital is unable to honor a patient’s request, the hospital must arrange a transfer to a facility that will follow the patient’s wishes.

A physician’s order may be required before some of your wishes may be carried out.

Hospitals must also offer patients assistance to complete an advance directive.

Will my health care proxy have access to my money or my property?

Your health care proxy will not have access to your money or property unless you complete other forms or paperwork, usually a general power of attorney.

Who can set up an advance directive?

You must be at least 19 years old to set up an advance directive. You must be able to think clearly and make decisions for yourself when you set it up.

Do I need a lawyer to set up an advance directive?

You do not need a lawyer to set one up, but you may want to talk with a lawyer before you take this important step.

What types of advance directives are available in Alabama?

In Alabama you can set up an Advance Directive for Health Care. The choices you have include a living will, a proxy and/or a durable power of attorney for health care.

What is a living will?

A living will is used to write down ahead of time what kind of care you do or do not want if you are too sick to speak for yourself.

What is a proxy?

A proxy can be part of a living will. You can pick a proxy to speak for you and make the choices you would make if you could. If you pick a proxy, you should talk to that person ahead of time. Be sure that your proxy knows how you feel about different kinds of medical treatments.

What is a durable power of attorney for health care?

Another way to pick a proxy is to sign a durable power of attorney for health care. The person you pick does not need to be a lawyer.

Where can I get an advance directive form?

Hospitals, home health agencies, hospices, and nursing homes usually have forms you can fill out if you want to set up a living will, pick a proxy, or set up a durable power of attorney for health care. You may also download a form at

If you have questions, you should ask your own lawyer or call your local Council on Aging for help.

What do I need to decide?

You will need to decide if you want treatments or machines that will make you live longer even if you will never get better. An example of this is a machine that breathes for you.

I completed an advance directive. Now what?

Be sure to sign your name and write the date on any form or paper you fill out. Talk to your family and doctor now so they will know and understand your choices. Give them a copy of what you have signed. If you go to the hospital, give a copy of your advance directive to the person who admits you to the hospital.

How do I know my wishes will be carried out?

The law says doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes must do what you want or send you to another place that will. Talk to your doctor before you set up an advance directive. Find out if your doctor is willing to go along with your wishes. If your doctor does not feel he or she can carry out your wishes, you can ask to go to another doctor, hospital, or nursing home.

Once you decide on the care you want or do not want, talk to your family. Explain why you want the care you have decided on. Find out if they are willing to let your wishes be carried out.

Family members do not always want to go along with an advance directive. This often happens when family members do not know about a patient’s wishes ahead of time or if they are not sure about what has been decided. Talking with your family ahead of time can prevent this problem.

What if I change my mind?

As long as you can speak for yourself, you can change your mind any time about what you have written down. If you make changes, tear up your old papers and give copies of any new forms or changes to everyone who needs to know.

For more information, you may contact:

Alabama Dept. of Senior Services (formerly Commission on Aging): 1-800-243-5463

Alabama Hospital Association: