Patient Rights

Know Your Patient Rights

We Respect Your Rights

At Sterling Area Health Center, our highly experienced and professional staff respects your rights as a patient. Your patient rights include:

Communication

We respect your right to and need for effective communication. Sterling Area Health Center shall provide information to you in a manner that you can understand. 

Information provided to patients is appropriate to their age, understanding and language. To assist in providing understandable communication Sterling Area Health Center shall maintain a list of interpretive and related resources available.

Confidentiality

It is our policy to afford the utmost confidentiality to all aspects of your visit to us. All employees will be instructed (at initial employment and annually thereafter) on confidentiality policies and procedures. 

All employees will annually sign a confidentiality pledge that will be retained in the employee's personnel record. Release of patient information is made according to the Center’s policy entitled Release of Results and Information.

Privacy

Sterling Area Health Center will strive to afford maximum privacy for patients visiting the facilities. Conversations with staff regarding health conditions or payment status will be conducted in nonpublic areas. Privacy will be maintained in all patient care or examining or treatment areas.

Security

Security for persons and property will be assured through the organization’s comprehensive security plan. This has plan established standards and practices designed to protect against theft, assault, injury or other loss on the part of staff, patients or visitors to the health center. 

The security plan also provides for initial staff orientation and periodic continuing education regarding security practices and policies.

Freedom From Abuse and Neglect

Patients have the right to be free from mental, physical, sexual and verbal abuse, neglect and exploitation. Staff is trained in recognizing and reporting the various forms of abuse and neglect.

Reasonable Access to Care

Improving access to health care services is central to the mission of Sterling Area Health Center. Sliding fee scale arrangements are in place to remove financial barriers. Hours of service are arranged to coincide with community needs.

Handicapped access is provided at all facilities. After-hours coverage is afforded to those patients who are unable to access services during the regular operating hours of Sterling Area Health Center.

Resolution of Complaints

Any staff member will receive complaints from patients regarding the services of Sterling Area Health Center, and resolution will follow our patient complaint policy and procedure. Complaints may be voiced orally or may be presented in written form.

All documented patient grievances will be conveyed to the Performance Improvement Committee, Peer Review Committee (when provider related) and summarized to the Board of Directors. Complaint data will be aggregated for trends and used as part of Sterling Area Health Center's performance improvement program.

When the complaint cannot be resolved at Sterling Area Health Center, you will be provided the contact information for The Joint Commission’s Quality Incident Report process. Staff who cannot resolve a quality of care or safety complaint about Sterling Area Health Center may also report this concern to The Joint Commission and not fear reprisal from Sterling Area Health Center.

Considerate Care That Respects Patients Personal Values and Beliefs

Health center staff shall be respectful of the personal values and beliefs of the patients at all times. Periodic in-service training in the appropriate cultural values is a regular part of the health center’s staff development program.

Information About Fee Schedules and Payment Policies

The schedule of fees is a public document, and patients may review this information at any time. Fee schedules of the most common charges are posted in the registration area of the Center facilities. The health center also maintains a sliding fee schedule that permits adjusting fees for patients with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. Information about the sliding fee schedule is posted at the registration area of the health center facilities.

Patients Are Involved in Care Decisions

It is the policy of Sterling Area Health Center to involve patients in decisions about care, treatment and services, and to provide them information about diagnosis and prognosis.

In addition, the family (as appropriate and as allowed by law and with the permission of the patient) is involved in the care, treatment and service decisions. Patients have the right and are encouraged to seek further information from the health center staff or from any other source in order to make decisions based upon adequate and relevant information.

You can also be an important source of information about potential adverse events and hazardous safety conditions. 

Patients (or family members) are encouraged to report concerns regarding patient safety issues to care staff. Such concerns can be reported orally to staff members or in writing Sterling Area Health Center. Written reports will be logged in the Sterling Area Health Center's incident report system for further review. 

In addition, patients will be provided information regarding infection control measures for hand and respiratory hygiene and contact precautions that are pertinent to the patient’s condition. The patient’s understanding of this information is evaluated and documented by Sterling Area Health Center.

Considering Ethical Issues That Impact Care

Ethical issues related to patient care are governed by the organization’s policies regarding patient rights and responsibilities. The patient always has the right to seek consultation from an independent party who is prepared by training and experience to offer advice regarding ethical issues in health care.

Resolving Conflicts About Care Decisions

It is a fundamental right of the patient to be in agreement with the proposed plan of treatment. Should any unresolved conflicts arise regarding care decisions, the matter will be referred to the Center’s CEO and Medical Director for review. 

This referral will be made using the Sterling Area Health Center's incident report form. The CEO and Medical Director will then meet with the Clinician and patient to resolve the conflict. Outside resources (e.g. clergy, etc.) may also be sought for advice. 

All patient conflicts about care decisions will be conveyed to the Performance Improvement Committee, Peer Review Committee (when provider related), and Board of Directors.

Protecting Research Subjects During Investigative Studies

Investigational studies are not a normal part of the activity of Sterling Area Health Center. There may arise occasions, however, where participation in such a study may be of distinct benefit to the patient or patients, and the organization’s CEO and Medical Director may approve such studies.

In the event Sterling Area Health Center participates in investigational or research studies the subjects' rights shall be respected and protected.

In all such instances the Center will assure:

  • They will obtain the outside Institutional Review Board’s review of protocols
  • Patients receive adequate information necessary to understand the risks and benefits of engaging in research and investigational activities. Adequate information shall include an explanation of the purpose of the research and expected duration of the subjects' participation; a description of the expected benefits, potential discomforts and risks; alternative services that might prove advantageous; and a full explanation of the procedures to be followed. In addition the informed consent will address the patients' right to privacy, confidentiality and safety
  • Patients are informed that refusing to participate or discontinuing participation at any time will not compromise their access to care not related to the research
  • Subjects are told to the extent to which personally identifiable health information will be held in confidence
  • All information given to subjects is in the medical record or research file including the informed consent forms
  • If a research-related injury occurs, the principal investigator will be notified and will attempt to address any harmful consequences the subject may have experienced as a result of their participation

Informed Consent

All invasive patient care provided by Sterling Area Health Center will be provided only after receiving a written and signed patient consent from. Sterling Area Health Center shall maintain a list of procedures requiring written informed consent. As part of the informed consent process Sterling Area Health Center's licensed independent practitioner will provide the patient, and family as appropriate, with the following information:

  • The nature of the proposed care, treatment, services, medication interventions or procedures
  • The physician or other practitioners primarily responsible for the patient’s care
  • Potential benefits, risks or side effects, including potential problems relating to recuperation
  • The measures that will be taken to prevent adverse events in surgery, such as patient identification practices, prevention of surgical infections and marking of the procedure sites
  • The likelihood of achieving care, treatment and service goals
  • Reasonable alternatives to the proposed care, treatment and service
  • The relevant risks, benefits and side effects, related to alternatives, including the possible results of not receiving care, treatment and services
  • When indicated any limitations on the confidentiality of information learned from or about the patient
Upon receipt of the above information it is the patient’s right to consent to the treatment, or to seek health care in another organization.

Sterling Area Health Center's policy is to obtain written patient consent prior to recording or filming, other than for the purposes of identification, diagnosis or treatment. Patients also have the right to request cessation of the recording and filming.

Patients have the right to rescind consent up and until a reasonable time before the recording or filming is used. Anyone who engages in filming or recording (who is not bound by the Center’s confidentiality agreement) signs a confidentiality statement to protect the patient’s identity and confidential information.

Pain Management

The Center will provide patients with appropriate, clinically approved methodologies for the assessment and management of pain.

Patent Responsibilities

You are provided information about your responsibilities while receiving care, treatment and services. These responsibilities are outlined in the Center’s Consumer Rights and Responsibilities.

Patients are responsible for becoming involved in health care decisions, working with health care providers to carry out treatment plans, learning about health plan coverage and maximizing healthy behaviors. Specific responsibilities of patients include:

Providing Information

Patient and family are responsible to provide the most accurate and complete information they can about present complaints, past illnesses, hospitalizations, medications, unexpected changes in the patient’s conditions and other patient health matters.

Asking Questions

Patient and family, as appropriate, must ask questions when they do not understand their care, treatment and service or what they are expected to do.

Following Instructions

Patient and family are responsible for following the plan of care, as well as expressing concerns regarding their ability to comply. Sterling Area Health Center will make every effort to adapt the plan to the specific needs and limitations of the patients. 

When such adaptations are not recommended, the patient and family are informed of the consequences of not following the proposed plan.

Accepting Consequences

Patients and family are responsible for the outcomes if they do not follow the care, treatment and service plan.

Refusing Treatment

Patient and family understand their responsibility for the outcomes if they do not follow the plan of care.

Following Rules and Regulations

Patient and family follow the organization’s rules and regulations governing patient care and conduct.

Showing Respect and Consideration

Patient and family show consideration to other patients and staff and help control noise, smoking and distractions. Patient and family are responsible for respecting the property of others and the organization.

Improving Provider Awareness

The patient and family help the organization improve its understanding of the patient’s environment by providing feedback about service needs and expectations.

Meeting Financial Commitments

Patient and family should promptly meet any financial obligation agreed to with Sterling Area Health Center. Patients have the right and responsibility to pay, all co-pays due at time of service, any previous balance with health center needs to have arrangements made. We accept most health insurance plans.
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