Patients Bill of Rights


Yesterday I had my first experience with the UMass Memorial Emergency Room. Not for myself but for a friend who was having some thankfully not life threatening issues which I will not divulge hear due to patient confidentiality issues. This brings me to my first surprising experience while being there. The Patient’s Bill of Rights. While I suppose I am generally in favor of such measures, I was surprised at one of the items in particular. For those who haven’t experienced this, the patient’s bill of rights is a set of just under 30 “rights” that you have as a patient in any hospital in the state of Massachusetts. Some of these rights are federally mandated and others are state initiatives. They include some fairly standard items like, “you have the right to an itemized bill” and you have the right to “life saving treatment without discrimination due to economic status.” One of them, however, caught my eye. “You have a right, if suffering from any form of breast cancer, to complete information on all alternative treatments that are medically viable.” Ummm…ok. This seems awfully odd to me. It’s the only place in the whole thing where a particular disease is mentioned. Is this to imply that if I get prostate cancer that I have no such rights. Would I want those rights? Is this even a positive thing to have in there at all. Anytime I hear the phrase “alternative treatments” I get a little nervous. Usually I’m nervous because “alternative” has become synonymous in the medical profession with bullshit. So lets rephrase in more accurate terminology, “If you have breast cancer (one of the most treatable and survivable forms of cancer) you are free to consider all sorts of lame-ass ineffective treatment options you want so that you can second guess your highly trained oncologist with bullshit information you found on the internet from some kook who doesn’t know a tumor from a tomato.” I guess I should feel pretty good about the fact that if I ever get cancer in this state my doctor will be able to tell me straight out that my ideas for treatment suck big time and he will not be violating any of my rights. Patrick OUT!!!

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