Hospitals often miss on these patient rights

In the accreditation process, hospitals tend to have compliance problems in the following three patient rights areas, says Patricia Staten, MS, associate director of the department of standards interpretation at the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations in Oakbrook Terrace, IL:

* Hospitals must ask patients whether they have advance directives in place.

If a patient does not have an advance directive, the hospital must offer to help the patient formulate one, Staten says.

If possible, advance directives should become part of a patient's medical record. If the patient does not have a copy of the document available, the key points of that document should be written into the medical record.

* Hospitals must conduct marketing, admission, transfer, and discharge in an ethical manner.

Marketing materials should reflect only the services available at the particular health care facility, and should state the hospital's level of licensure for each service. Services that have been discontinued should be removed from advertising.

* Hospitals must inform patients of the financial implications involved in their care.

Patients should be informed about procedures that are not covered by their insurance. They are also entitled to receive itemized bills and to question individual amounts charged. *