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Mass. Gen. Laws. Ann. ch. 111, § 70E - Patients' and residents' rights

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All of the rights below apply to all patients in all facilities.  This section applies to all health care facilities, which include, hospitals, clinics, convalescent or nursing homes, rest homes for the aged licensed or regulated by the Department of Public Health, any private, county or municipal ward licensed or regulated by the Department of Mental Health or by the Department of Developmental Services.

Upon admittance, the patient must receive a written document with all of rights and these rights must also be posted within each facility.  In addition to state and federal laws, each patient must have the right to free choice in selecting a facility, physician, or service mode, except if there is an emergency.  Each patient has the right to receive an itemized bill of charges from the facility upon request, and see an explanation of the charges regardless of the source of payment.

All patients or residents in a facility have the following rights:

  1. Right to know name and specialty of physician in charge of care;
  2. Confidentiality of records and communications, as protected by law;
  3. To have all reasonable requests attended to in a timely manner by the facility;
  4. To know the relationship between the facility and an educational entity or other health care facility if it relates to the patient’s care upon request. 
  5. To have a copy of the rules and regulations of the facility;
  6. To get information on free health care services or financial assistance that the facility provides when requested;
  7. To inspect and copy the patient’s medical record on written request and pay a reasonable fee for copying and administrative costs.  Patients who request copies of their medical records for appealing their claims under the Social Security Act or a state or federal needs based financial program should not be charged the fee. 
  8. Right to refuse treatment or examination by medical students or staff as long as it does not jeopardize access to psychiatric or other medical care. 
  9. Right to refuse to serve as a research subject or participate in care if its primary goal is educational not treatment;
  10. To privacy during medical treatment;
  11. To prompt life saving treatment in the event of an emergency, without regard for payment ability;
  12. To informed consent as provided by law;
  13. To receive, upon request, an itemized bill submitted to a third party by the facility for the care of the patient.
  14. To be transferred to a facility that can treat the patient promptly if the patient is refused treatment because he cannot afford treatment.  The original facility is responsible for the safe transfer of the patient, contacting another facility that will treat the patient, making travel arrangements, and assuring that the receiving facility gets the required medical and patient information to be able to treat the patient.
  15. If the patient is a female rape victim, the hospital must give medically and factually accurate information about emergency contraception, offer emergency contraception, and if requested, provide the emergency contraception.

The physician in the health care facility must give each patient specific rights.  Many of them are similar to those noted above.  However they are also noted here for convenience.  The physician must give each patient the right to:

  1. Informed consent;
  2. Privacy during medical treatment;
  3. Refuse treatment by medical students or staff;
  4. Refuse to serve as a research subject;
  5. Prompt life saving treatment in an emergency regardless of the patient’s ability to pay or source of payment;
  6. Upon request, the physician’s relation with other health care facilities or educational institutions, including the physician’s ownership or financial interest if it relates to the patient’s treatment;
  7. Upon request, to receive an itemized copy of reimbursements paid toward the bill;
  8. Receive information on alternative treatments that are viable for breast cancer patients.

The law also allows any person whose rights have been violated due to the facility’s noncompliance with its obligations under this section to bring a civil lawsuit against the facility independent of other malpractice claims that may be pursued.

Current as of June 2015