Patient’s Bill of Rights

“A patient has the right to access any mode of treatment that is, in his or her own judgment and the judgment of his or her health care practitioner, in the best interests of the patient, including complementary or alternative health care treatments . . .” F.S. 381.026 section 4(d)3.

The Florida Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities authorizes the provision of and access to complementary or alternative health care treatments. It establishes the right to access any mode of treatment a patient or patient’s health care practitioner believes is in the patient’s best interests. The statutory language for this medical freedom is coded in Chapters 381, 456, and 766:

Chapter 381 Public Health: General Provisions
381.026 Florida Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities
(1) SHORT TITLE.–This section may be cited as the “Florida Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.”
(2) DEFINITIONS.–As used in this section and s. 381.0261, the term:

(a) “Department” means the Department of Health.

(b) “Health care facility” means a facility licensed under chapter 395.

(c) “Health care provider” means a physician licensed under chapter 458, an osteopathic physician licensed under chapter 459, or a podiatric physician licensed under chapter 461.

(d) “Responsible provider” means a health care provider who is primarily responsible for patient care in a health care facility or provider’s office.

(3) PURPOSE.–It is the purpose of this section to promote the interests and well-being of the patients of health care providers and health care facilities and to promote better communication between the patient and the health care provider.

It is the intent of the Legislature that health care providers understand their responsibility to give their patients a general understanding of the procedures to be performed on them and to provide information pertaining to their health care so that they may make decisions in an informed manner after considering the information relating to their condition, the available treatment alternatives, and substantial risks and hazards inherent in the treatments. It is the intent of the Legislature that patients have a general understanding of their responsibilities toward health care providers and health care facilities. It is the intent of the Legislature that the provision of such information to a patient eliminate potential misunderstandings between patients and health care providers. It is a public policy of the state that the interests of patients be recognized in a patient’s bill of rights and responsibilities and that a health care facility or health care provider may not require a patient to waive his or her rights as a condition of treatment. This section shall not be used for any purpose in any civil or administrative action and neither expands nor limits any rights or remedies provided under any other law.

(4) RIGHTS OF PATIENTS.–Each health care facility or provider shall observe the following standards:
(a) Individual dignity.–
1.  The individual dignity of a patient must be respected at all times and upon all occasions.

2.  Every patient who is provided health care services retains certain rights to privacy, which must be respected without regard to the patient’s economic status or source of payment for his or her care. The patient’s rights to privacy must be respected to the extent consistent with providing adequate medical care to the patient and with the efficient administration of the health care facility or provider’s office. However, this subparagraph does not preclude necessary and discreet discussion of a patient’s case or examination by appropriate medical personnel.

3.  A patient has the right to a prompt and reasonable response to a question or request. A health care facility shall respond in a reasonable manner to the request of a patient’s health care provider for medical services to the patient. The health care facility shall also respond in a reasonable manner to the patient’s request for other services customarily rendered by the health care facility to the extent such services do not require the approval of the patient’s health care provider or are not inconsistent with the patient’s treatment.

4.  A patient in a health care facility has the right to retain and use personal clothing or possessions as space permits, unless for him or her to do so would infringe upon the right of another patient or is medically or programmatically contraindicated for documented medical, safety, or programmatic reasons.

(b) Information.–
1.  A patient has the right to know the name, function, and qualifications of each health care provider who is providing medical services to the patient. A patient may request such information from his or her responsible provider or the health care facility in which he or she is receiving medical services.

2.  A patient in a health care facility has the right to know what patient support services are available in the facility.

3.  A patient has the right to be given by his or her health care provider information concerning diagnosis, planned course of treatment, alternatives, risks, and prognosis, unless it is medically inadvisable or impossible to give this information to the patient, in which case the information must be given to the patient’s guardian or a person designated as the patient’s representative. A patient has the right to refuse this information.

4.  A patient has the right to refuse any treatment based on information required by this paragraph, except as otherwise provided by law. The responsible provider shall document any such refusal.

5.  A patient in a health care facility has the right to know what facility rules and regulations apply to patient conduct.

6.  A patient has the right to express grievances to a health care provider, a health care facility, or the appropriate state licensing agency regarding alleged violations of patients’ rights. A patient has the right to know the health care provider’s or health care facility’s procedures for expressing a grievance.

7.  A patient in a health care facility who does not speak English has the right to be provided an interpreter when receiving medical services if the facility has a person readily available who can interpret on behalf of the patient.

(c) Financial information and disclosure.–
1.  A patient has the right to be given, upon request, by the responsible provider, his or her designee, or a representative of the health care facility full information and necessary counseling on the availability of known financial resources for the patient’s health care.

2.  A health care provider or a health care facility shall, upon request, disclose to each patient who is eligible for Medicare, in advance of treatment, whether the health care provider or the health care facility in which the patient is receiving medical services accepts assignment under Medicare reimbursement as payment in full for medical services and treatment rendered in the health care provider’s office or health care facility.

3.  A health care provider or a health care facility shall, upon request, furnish a patient, prior to provision of medical services, a reasonable estimate of charges for such services. Such reasonable estimate shall not preclude the health care provider or health care facility from exceeding the estimate or making additional charges based on changes in the patient’s condition or treatment needs.

4.  A patient has the right to receive a copy of an itemized bill upon request. A patient has a right to be given an explanation of charges upon request.

(d) Access to health care.–
1.  A patient has the right to impartial access to medical treatment or accommodations, regardless of race, national origin, religion, handicap, or source of payment.

2.  A patient has the right to treatment for any emergency medical condition that will deteriorate from failure to provide such treatment.

3.  A patient has the right to access any mode of treatment that is, in his or her own judgment and the judgment of his or her health care practitioner, in the best interests of the patient, including complementary or alternative health care treatments, in accordance with the provisions of s. 456.41.

(e) Experimental research.–In addition to the provisions of s. 766.103, a patient has the right to know if medical treatment is for purposes of experimental research and to consent prior to participation in such experimental research. For any patient, regardless of ability to pay or source of payment for his or her care, participation must be a voluntary matter; and a patient has the right to refuse to participate. The patient’s consent or refusal must be documented in the patient’s care record.

(f) Patient’s knowledge of rights and responsibilities.–In receiving health care, patients have the right to know what their rights and responsibilities are.
(5) RESPONSIBILITIES OF PATIENTS.–Each patient of a health care provider or health care facility shall respect the health care provider’s and health care facility’s right to expect behavior on the part of patients which, considering the nature of their illness, is reasonable and responsible. Each patient shall observe the responsibilities described in the following summary.
(6) SUMMARY OF RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES.–Any health care provider who treats a patient in an office or any health care facility licensed under chapter 395 that provides emergency services and care or outpatient services and care to a patient, or admits and treats a patient, shall adopt and make available to the patient, in writing, a statement of the rights and responsibilities of patients, including the following:
Chapter 456 Health Professions & Occupations: General Provisions
456.41 Complementary or alternative health care treatments.
(1) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.–It is the intent of the Legislature that citizens be able to make informed choices for any type of health care they deem to be an effective option for treating human disease, pain, injury, deformity, or other physical or mental condition. It is the intent of the Legislature that citizens be able to choose from all health care options, including the prevailing or conventional treatment methods as well as other treatments designed to complement or substitute for the prevailing or conventional treatment methods. It is the intent of the Legislature that health care practitioners be able to offer complementary or alternative health care treatments with the same requirements, provisions, and liabilities as those associated with the prevailing or conventional treatment methods.
(2) DEFINITIONS.–As used in this section, the

(a) “Complementary or alternative health care treatment” means any treatment that is designed to provide patients with an effective option to the prevailing or conventional treatment methods associated with the services provided by a health care practitioner. Such a treatment may be provided in addition to or in place of other treatment options.

(b) “Health care practitioner” means any health care practitioner as defined in s. 456.001(4).

(3) COMMUNICATION OF TREATMENT ALTERNATIVES.–A health care practitioner who offers to provide a patient with a complementary or alternative health care treatment must inform the patient of the nature of the treatment and must explain the benefits and risks associated with the treatment to the extent necessary for the patient to make an informed and prudent decision regarding such treatment option. In compliance with this subsection:

(a) The health care practitioner must inform the patient of the practitioner’s education, experience, and credentials in relation to the complementary or alternative health care treatment option.

(b) The health care practitioner may, in his or her discretion, communicate the information orally or in written form directly to the patient or to the patient’s legal representative.

(c) The health care practitioner may, in his or her discretion and without restriction, recommend any mode of treatment that is, in his or her judgment, in the best interests of the patient, including complementary or alternative health care treatments, in accordance with the provisions of his or her license.

(4) RECORDS.–Every health care practitioner providing a patient with a complementary or alternative health care treatment must indicate in the patient’s care record the method by which the requirements of subsection (3) were met.
(5) EFFECT.–This section does not modify or change the scope of practice of any licensees of the department, nor does it alter in any way the provisions of the individual practice acts for those licensees, which require licensees to practice within their respective standards of care and which prohibit fraud and exploitation of patients.
History.–s. 1, ch. 2001-116.

From 456.001 Definitions

(4) “Health care practitioner” means any person licensed under chapter 457; chapter 458; chapter 459; chapter 460; chapter 461; chapter 462; chapter 463; chapter 464; chapter 465; chapter 466; chapter 467; part I, part II, part III, part V, part X, part XIII, or part XIV of chapter 468; chapter 478; chapter 480; part III or part IV of chapter 483; chapter 484; chapter 486; chapter 490; or chapter 491
Acupuncture; Medical Practice, Osteopathic Medicine, Chiropractic Medicine, Podiatric Medicine; Naturopathy; Optometry; Nursing; Pharmacy; Dentistry; Dental Hygiene & Dental Laboratories; Midwifery; Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology; Nursing Home Administration; Occupational Therapy; Respiratory Therapy; Dietetics & Nutrition Practice; Athletic Trainers; Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics; Electrolysis; Massage Practice; Clinical Laboratory Personnel; Medical Physicists; Dispensing of Optical Devices & Hearing Aids; Physical Therapy Practice; Psychological Services; Clinical, Counseling & Psychotherapy Services
Chapter 766 Medical Malpractice and Related Matters
766.103 Florida Medical Consent Law
(1) This section shall be known and cited as the “Florida Medical Consent Law.”

(2) In any medical treatment activity not covered by s. 768.13, entitled the “Good Samaritan Act,” this act shall govern.

(3) No recovery shall be allowed in any court in this state against any physician licensed under chapter 458, osteopathic physician licensed under chapter 459, chiropractic physician licensed under chapter 460, podiatric physician licensed under chapter 461, or dentist licensed under chapter 466 in an action brought for treating, examining, or operating on a patient without his or her informed consent when:

(a)
1.  The action of the physician, osteopathic physician, chiropractic physician, podiatric physician, or dentist in obtaining the consent of the patient or another person authorized to give consent for the patient was in accordance with an accepted standard of medical practice among members of the medical profession with similar training and experience in the same or similar medical community; and

2.  A reasonable individual, from the information provided by the physician, osteopathic physician, chiropractic physician, podiatric physician, or dentist, under the circumstances, would have a general understanding of the procedure, the medically acceptable alternative procedures or treatments, and the substantial risks and hazards inherent in the proposed treatment or procedures, which are recognized among other physicians, osteopathic physicians, chiropractic physicians, podiatric physicians, or dentists in the same or similar community who perform similar treatments or procedures; or

(b) The patient would reasonably, under all the surrounding circumstances, have undergone such treatment or procedure had he or she been advised by the physician, osteopathic physician, chiropractic physician, podiatric physician, or dentist in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (a).
(4)

(a) A consent which is evidenced in writing and meets the requirements of subsection (3) shall, if validly signed by the patient or another authorized person, raise a rebuttable presumption of a valid consent.

(b) A valid signature is one which is given by a person who under all the surrounding circumstances is mentally and physically competent to give consent.

History.–s. 11, ch. 75-9; s. 21, ch. 85-175; s. 1150, ch. 97-102; s. 62, ch. 97-264; ss. 230, 297, ch. 98-166.

Note.–Former s. 768.132; s. 768.46.

SUMMARY OF THE FLORIDA PATIENT’S BILL
OF RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Florida law requires that your health care provider or health care facility recognize your rights while you are receiving medical care and that you respect the health care provider’s or health care facility’s right to expect certain behavior on the part of patients. You may request a copy of the full text of this law from your health care provider or health care facility. A summary of your rights and responsibilities follows:

A patient has the right to be treated with courtesy and respect, with appreciation of his or her individual dignity, and with protection of his or her need for privacy.

A patient has the right to a prompt and reasonable response to questions and requests.

A patient has the right to know who is providing medical services and who is responsible for his or her care.

A patient has the right to know what patient support services are available, including whether an interpreter is available if he or she does not speak English.

A patient has the right to know what rules and regulations apply to his or her conduct.

A patient has the right to be given by the health care provider information concerning diagnosis, planned course of treatment, alternatives, risks, and prognosis.

A patient has the right to refuse any treatment, except as otherwise provided by law.

A patient has the right to be given, upon request, full information and necessary counseling on the availability of known financial resources for his or her care.

A patient who is eligible for Medicare has the right to know, upon request and in advance of treatment, whether the health care provider or health care facility accepts the Medicare assignment rate.

A patient has the right to receive, upon request, prior to treatment, a reasonable estimate of charges for medical care.

A patient has the right to receive a copy of a reasonably clear and understandable, itemized bill and, upon request, to have the charges explained.

A patient has the right to impartial access to medical treatment or accommodations, regardless of race, national origin, religion, handicap, or source of payment.

A patient has the right to treatment for any emergency medical condition that will deteriorate from failure to provide treatment.

A patient has the right to know if medical treatment is for purposes of experimental research and to give his or her consent or refusal to participate in such experimental research.

A patient has the right to express grievances regarding any violation of his or her rights, as stated in Florida law, through the grievance procedure of the health care provider or health care facility which served him or her and to the appropriate state licensing agency.

A patient is responsible for providing to the health care provider, to the best of his or her knowledge, accurate and complete information about present complaints, past illnesses, hospitalizations, medications, and other matters relating to his or her health.

A patient is responsible for reporting unexpected changes in his or her condition to the health care provider.

A patient is responsible for reporting to the health care provider whether he or she comprehends a contemplated course of action and what is expected of him or her.

A patient is responsible for following the treatment plan recommended by the health care provider.

A patient is responsible for keeping appointments and, when he or she is unable to do so for any reason, for notifying the health care provider or health care facility.

A patient is responsible for his or her actions if he or she refuses treatment or does not follow the health care provider’s instructions.

A patient is responsible for assuring that the financial obligations of his or her health care are fulfilled as promptly as possible.

A patient is responsible for following health care facility rules and regulations affecting patient care and conduct.

History.–s. 1, ch. 91-127; s. 65, ch. 92-289; s. 656, ch. 95-148; s. 21, ch. 98-89; s. 178, ch. 98-166; s. 64, ch. 99-397; s. 7, ch. 2001-53; s. 2, ch. 2001-116.
Health Freedom, Informed Choice & Consent and Religious Beliefs

Within the context of vaccination policy, complementary or alternative health care treatment does not in and of itself constitute a religious belief. The fundamental premise upon which complementary or alternative health care treatments are based is the view that healing is an innate process that relies upon the integrity of all the functional and physiological body systems, with the immune system as the primary feedback mechanism for maintaining the health of the organism.

Vaccination, the process of injecting foreign toxic materials into the bloodstream, is considered by many complementary or alternative health care practitioners and physicians to be in conflict with the tenets of traditional medical systems where the goal of medicine is to stimulate, strengthen and maintain healthy immune responses to both infectious agents and degenerative disease processes.

Many religious beliefs regard the physical body of a person as its “temple”, and they promote the sanctity of the internal milieu as sacred. This belief is congruent with the premises upon which alternative health care therapy is predicated.