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Know Your Rights

This is a reminder to not only learn about how to get the best possible treatment and how to support your loved one while they are hospitalized.  If you are someone who is at risk of psychiatric hospitalization,  learn about your rights before you are hospitalized if at all possible. That means, learn about this now.

I am not a lawyer and I cannot tell you what your rights are verbatim, however, I do recommend that you become aware of your patient’s rights before you are ever hospitalized if that is possible. If you have a loved one with bipolar disorder, it is wise to gather this information now. My last several posts were dedicated to those of you who may have been hospitalized, or who may in at risk for psychiatric hospitalization, and for those who has loved ones who are in such a situation. Check your own State for clarification of your rights and laws. Take this information and keep it with your Wellness and Recovery Plan so that you can refer to it should you need to.

The absolute basics include:

You have the right to participate in your own treatment planning

You have a right to review and to a copy of your medical records http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/consumers/medicalrecords.html

You have a right to keep your medical records private

You have a right to a commitment hearing before you are involuntarily committed

You have a right to a hearing before you are administered psychiatric medications involuntarily

You have a right to be treated with dignity and respect

You have a right to at least a minimal standard of care; to not be neglected, and to have your illness treated with evidence based interventions

You can also ask your Local State Hospital to give you a copy of your Patients rights. You have a Right to Ask about your Rights and to be provided with information about your rights.

If you believe that any of your rights are being violated, get in touch with NAMNI and seek advocacy. Contact your hospital’s Ombudsman and seek to resolve your issues. Often times there are misunderstandings between the patient and staff, and there isn’t any violation of rights, but rather communication problems. Often, an ombudsman can help resolve these kinds of barriers to proper care.

Look for a handbook that explains your rights from your own state government website. If you are in California you can go here for your State Mandated Rights:

https://www.sccgov.org/sites/mhd/Resources/OFA/Documents/Patient’s-Rights-Handbook—English.pdf

Educate yourself, and network. There is no end to how many times I have encouraged my readers to join a support group. If you belong to a major health provider, chances are, the organization has support groups in place. In addition, please consider joining NAMI (I have mentioned this allot as well). NAMI is the National Alliance of Mental Illness. Look here for a NAMI support group: https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/NAMI-Programs/NAMI-Family-Support-Group. NAMI’s strong advocacy for people with mental illness cannot be underestimated. If you are interested in becoming an advocate yourself, look here: http://www.nami.org/Local-NAMI/Programs?classkey=548234dd-c90b-4d56-be5b-3a52bb5109a7