Patient Rights and Responsibilities
Summary of Massachusetts Patients’ Rights Statute
Every patient shall have the right to freedom of choice in their selection of Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE), except in the case of emergency medical treatment or as otherwise provided for by contract, as long as that physician, the hospital or health service is able to accommodate the patient’s choice.
Each patient, upon reasonable request, shall receive an itemized bill reflecting laboratory charges, pharmaceutical charges, and third party credits and shall be allowed to examine an explanation of said bill regardless of the source of payment. This information shall also be made available to the patient’s attending physician.
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In addition, every patient of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear has the right:
- upon request, to obtain from the facility in charge of their care the name and specialty, if any, of the physician or other person responsible for their care or the coordination of their care;
- to confidentiality of all records and communications to the extent provided by law;
- to have all reasonable requests responded to promptly and adequately within the capacity of the MEE;
- upon request, to obtain an explanation as to the relationship, if any, of the MEE to any other health care facility or educational institution insofar as said relationship relates to their care or treatment;
- to obtain from the MEE a copy of any rules or regulations of the facility which apply to his conduct as a patient or resident;
- upon request, to receive from the MEE any information which the facility has available relative to financial assistance and free health care;
- upon request, to inspect their medical records and to receive a copy of those records, and the fee for said copies shall be determined by the rate of copying expenses, except that no fee shall be charged to any applicant, beneficiary or individual representing said applicant or beneficiary for furnishing medical records if the records are requested for the purpose of supporting a claim or appeal under any provision of the Social Security Act or federal or state financial needs-based benefit program, and the MEE shall furnish a medical record requested pursuant to a claim or appeal under any provision of the Social Security Act or any federal or state financial needs-based benefit program within thirty days of the request; provided, however, that any person for whom no fee shall be charged shall present reasonable documentation at the time of such records request that the purpose of said request is to support a claim or appeal under any provision of the Social Security Act or any federal or state financial needs-based benefit program;
- to refuse to be examined, observed, or treated by students or any other MEE staff without jeopardizing access to psychiatric, psychological, or other medical care and attention;
- to refuse to serve as a research subject and to refuse any care or examination when the primary purpose is educational or informational rather than therapeutic;
- to privacy during medical treatment or other rendering of care within the capacity of the MEE;
- to prompt lifesaving treatment in an emergency without discrimination on account of economic status or source of payment and without delaying treatment for purposes of prior discussion of the source of payment unless such delay can be imposed without material risk to his health, and this right shall also extend to those persons not already patients or residents of a facility if said facility has a certified emergency care unit;
- to informed consent to the extent provided by law;
- upon request to receive a copy of an itemized bill or other statement of charges submitted to any third party by the MEE for care of the patient and to have a copy of said itemized bill or statement sent to the attending physician of the patient;
- if refused treatment because of economic status or the lack of a source of payment, to prompt and safe transfer to a facility which agrees to receive and treat such patient. Said facility refusing to treat such patient shall be responsible for: ascertaining that the patient may be safely transferred; contacting a facility willing to treat such patient; arranging the transportation; accompanying the patient with necessary and appropriate professional staff to assist in the safety and comfort of the transfer, assure that the receiving facility assumes the necessary care promptly, and provide pertinent medical information about the patient's condition; and maintaining records of the foregoing; and
- if the patient is a female rape victim of childbearing age, to receive medically and factually accurate written information prepared by the commissioner of public health about emergency contraception; to be promptly offered emergency contraception; and to be provided with emergency contraception upon request.
Except in cases of emergency surgery, at least ten days before a physician operates on a patient to insert a breast implant, the physician shall inform the patient of the disadvantages and risks associated with breast implantation. The information shall include, but not be limited to, the standardized written summary provided by the department. The patient shall sign a statement provided by the department acknowledging the receipt of said standardized written summary. Nothing herein shall be construed as causing any liability of the department due to any action or omission by said department relative to the information provided pursuant to this paragraph.
When applicable, every maternity patient, at the time of pre-admission, shall receive complete information from an admitting hospital on its annual rate of primary caesarian sections, annual rate of repeat caesarian sections, annual rate of total caesarian sections, annual percentage of women who have had a caesarian section who have had a subsequent successful vaginal birth, annual percentage of deliveries in birthing rooms and labor-delivery-recovery or labor-delivery-recovery-postpartum rooms, annual percentage of deliveries by certified nurse-midwives, annual percentage which were continuously externally monitored only, annual percentage which were continuously internally monitored only, annual percentage which were monitored both internally and externally, annual percentages utilizing intravenous, inductions, augmentation, forceps, episiotomies, spinals, epidurals and general anesthesia, and its annual percentage of women breast-feeding upon discharge from said hospital.
Every facility shall require all persons who provide care to victims of sexual assault to be provided with medically and factually accurate written information prepared by the commissioner about emergency contraception. Every female rape victim of childbearing age who presents at a facility after a rape shall promptly be provided with medically and factually accurate written information prepared by the commissioner about emergency contraception. Facilities that provide emergency care shall promptly offer emergency contraception at the facility to each female rape victim of childbearing age, and shall initiate emergency contraception upon her request.
MEE will require all persons, including students, who examine, observe or treat a patient or resident of such facility to wear an identification badge which readily discloses their first name, licensure status, if any, and staff position of the person so examining, observing or treating a patient or resident; provided, however, that for the purpose of this paragraph, the word facility shall not include a community day and residential setting licensed or operated by the department of mental retardation.
No provision of this section relating to confidentiality of records shall be construed to prevent any third party reimburser from inspecting and copying, in the ordinary course of determining eligibility for or entitlement to benefits, any and all records relating to diagnosis, treatment, or other services provided to any person, including a minor or incompetent, for which coverage, benefit or reimbursement is claimed, so long as the policy or certificate under which the claim is made provides that such access to such records is permitted. No provision of this section relating to confidentiality of records shall be construed to prevent access to any such records in connection with any peer review or utilization review procedures applied and implemented in good faith.
Every Massachusetts Eye and Ear patient or his or her legal representative (as allowed under State Law) shall also have the right:
- to be informed of his or her health status and to participate in the development and implementation of his or her plan of care;
- to make informed decisions regarding his or her care, to accept or refuse treatment and to be informed of the medical consequences of such refusal;
- to formulate advance directives and to have the hospital staff and practitioners who provide care in the hospital comply with these directives;
- to have a family member or representative and his or her own physician notified promptly of the admission;
- to personal privacy;
- to receive care in a safe setting;
- to be free from all forms of abuse or harassment;
- to be free from seclusion and restraints, of any form, imposed as a means of coercion, discipline, convenience or retaliation by staff;
- to respectful care, including consideration of the psychosocial, spiritual and cultural variables that influence the perception of illness;
- to pain assessment and appropriate pain management;
- to interpreter services and/or the use of alternative communication techniques to ensure effective communication.
Your Responsibility as a Patient
You are responsible for being considerate of the rights of other patients and for observing MEE regulations affecting patient care and conduct.
You are responsible for providing accurate and complete information regarding your medical history, for asking questions if you do not understand your care or treatment, for following the plan of care or accepting the consequences if you refuse treatment, and for prompt payment of your MEE bill.
You are responsible for discussing pain relief options with your physician or nurse, and for reporting pain promptly.
If You Have a Complaint
You may register a complaint in writing or in person with our Patient Relations Department. The office is open 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday at 617-573-3008.
You may also register a complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health or with the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Specific physician complaints may be reported to the Board of Registration in Medicine. The addresses and telephone numbers are listed below.
Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE)
243 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Division of Health Care Quality
99 Chauncy Street, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02111
617-753-8156 or 1-800-462-5540 (24 Hour Hotline)
Board of Registration in Medicine
560 Harrison Avenue - Suite G-4
Boston, MA 02118
Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
Office of Quality Monitoring
One Renaissance Boulevard
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
* In the event a complaint needs to be registered in the evening or on a weekend, contact the nursing supervisor by telephoning the operator at 617-573-3700 and ask to have the nursing supervisor paged.