A patient is the name given to any person who is ill and is being treated by, or in need of treatment by, a doctor. It is derived from the Latin pati which means "to suffer".
In the United States of America patients will be able to seek protection under the Patients' Bill of Rights. The recent passage of the McCain-Edwards-Kennedy Patients' Bill of Rights was a critical step in the path to providing comprehensive protections to all Americans in health plans.
The House of Representatives and Senate passed differing versions of the Patients' Bill of Rights. Although both bills would provide patients key rights such as prompt access to emergency care and specialists , only the Senate-passed measure would provide patients with adequate means to enforce their rights.
The Senate-passed Patients' Bill of Rights confers a broad array of rights on patients. The bill would ensure that patients have the right to:
- have their medical decisions made by a doctor;
- see a medical specialist;
- go to the closest emergency room;
- designate a pediatrician as a primary care doctor for their children;
- keep the same doctor throughout their medical treatment;
- obtain the prescription drugs their doctor prescribes;
- access a fair and independent appeals process if care is denied; and
- hold their health plan accountable for harm done.