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Communicating patient rights with physcians and staff

You can have the best policies and procedures in the world, but if communication and understanding by those who need to know is not available, the intent of the patient rights chapter will never come to fruition. The chapter captain assigned to patients’ rights, with guidance from the accreditation director, should develop a communication plan to ensure that everyone in the organization understands his or her roles and the impact the chapter holds in relation to job responsibilities and functions.

The first step in a communication plan is to include aspects of this chapter in the job application form and credentials application. Those applying for jobs and physician privileges need not apply if they are not willing to adhere to and respect patients’ rights. For example, you could include the following language in your application:

By signing this application, I agree to treat patients and families with respect, ensure the patient’s privacy and confidentiality of health information, and to review the patient’s rights and responsibility notice.

Communication regarding patients’ rights should always be part of orientation to new board members, physicians, and staff. Some hospitals require all three groups to sign a document attesting that they will abide by and uphold these rights.

Ongoing communication is important for compliance with the patient rights chapter. In particular, the following topics should be considered for educational sessions or communication reminders:

  • Respecting cultural and personal values, beliefs, and preferences
  • Privacy and confidentiality
  • Understanding how patients understand (i.e., health literacy)
  • Advance directives and end-of-life decisions
  • Informed consent
  • Research/clinical trials
  • Dealing with disruptive people (e.g., physicians, staff, patients, family members)
  • Identifying neglect, exploitation, and verbal, mental, physical, and sexual abuse
  • Resolving patient complaints

Note: This blog post is an excerpt from The Chapter Leader’s Guide to Patient Rights: Practical Insight on Joint Commission Standards by Jean Clark, RHIA, CSHA.