Client rights can be difficult to understand and even more difficult to swallow when they have been employed. To do your job as a CNA effectively, you must know about patient rights, from the most basic of human rights to the more involved rights as a patient in a healthcare facility.
Basic rights awarded to patients include the right to both respect and dignity. This is demonstrated in numerous ways, including treating all patients with kindness and patience, giving them your full attention, and treating adults like functioning, mature men and women. If a patient is being difficult, for instance, inflicting punishments such as limiting television time or other “if you do this, then this” scenarios would be robbing them of their dignity. Treating an adult like a troublesome child is not treating them with respect.
Basic rights also extend to patient cleanliness and comfort. Patients who are unable to evacuate their bowels alone, for instance, should not under any circumstances be left for an extended period of time in their own urine or feces. All questions of hygiene and comfort should be resolved as quickly as possible, ranging from regular baths to something as small as clipping fingernails. Patients who are unable to care for themselves require your consideration and kindness. This includes affording patients their modesty during and after wash times, as well as ensuring patients are covered adequately during rest and recovery.
While basic rights are incredibly important, complex rights that require more consideration and discretion among healthcare practitioners also exist. These rights include patient privacy, patient confidentiality, freedom from abuse, monetary control, being informed, personal decisions, and freedom from fear when reporting complaints or difficulties.
Because highly sensitive, personal information is frequently exchanged in a medical care setting, patients are awarded the right to both privacy and confidentiality. This means that healthcare practitioners should not discuss client issues and concerns outside of work, with other patients, or in any way not related to the case at hand. You should never disclose patient information without their consent or you could risk serious legal repercussions for doing so. Patients expect doctors and healthcare professionals to be trustworthy and discreet with their information, allowing them to speak freely with past mistakes, illnesses, or concerns. Without confidentiality, patients cannot trust their healthcare practitioners and will not offer necessary information freely.
Patients have the right to freedom from abuse. Abuse comes in many forms, including neglect, physical abuse, and verbal or mental abuse. While patients can be frustrating at times, and work can be grueling, a CNA should not, under any circumstances, lay a hand upon a patient, or in any way belittle a client. As discussed, clients should not be ignored or neglected. If a patient is in need of any kind of care, you are responsible to perform the care in question in a timely manner.
Because patients/clients are to be treated as adults, their money should be handled by them alone. Though it may be tempting to advise patients to use their money in a certain way, or abstain from some purchases while under your care, your position simply requires that you provide physical, mental, and emotional care. You are not intended to function as a caretaker or personal care provider.
Being in a hospital, nursing home, or other healthcare facility can be frightening for patients. For this reason, patients have the right to be informed of their progress (or lack of progress), their overall care, and their prognosis. Though it may be tempting to keep some information from patients—particularly bad information—the patients deserve to know what is happening in their health and treatment, and should be informed immediately upon asking.
Finally, patients should be able to have freedom from fear regarding any punishment or negative repercussions if dissatisfaction is expressed. Many dynamics are involved in the relationships between patients and their healthcare providers, and sometimes patients and providers will not see eye to eye. Because of this, many patients will lodge complaints regarding their care or hospital procedures. While this is unfortunate, patients have the right to express their opinion (or displeasure) freely, and should not be treated poorly or intimidated into keeping any displeasure or dissatisfaction quiet.
While being a CNA is a rewarding career, many facets of the work require your attention. Client’s rights are no exception; all clients should be treated with respect and dignity, including protected privacy, confidentiality, and freedom from intimidation, poor treatment, and judgment.