In the confusing, expensive, and understaffed American healthcare system, it’s easy to feel like you have no control over what happens at the doctor's office. But the truth is, you have more power than you think.

Cove & Nurx are teaming up to share the message that patients have rights. We want you to feel empowered to stand up for yourself whenever you’re dealing with the medical system—so first, you need to know what those rights are.

The right to say no.

Consent isn’t just about sex. The Patient Self-Determination Act is a federal law that guarantees adults’ right to accept or reject medical or surgical treatment.

“Sure,” you might be thinking, “that makes sense for treatments, but what about refusing a medically unnecessary pelvic exam or declining being weighed?”

The law may not be quite as clearcut, but quite often, you absolutely can “just say no” or at least start a conversation about why a test or procedure is needed.

The right to a second opinion.

The American Medical Association Code of Ethics gives you the right to get a second opinion if you’re not satisfied with the information or treatment options you receive from your provider.

The American Hospital Association Patient’s Bill of Rights also notes that if you refuse a treatment or procedure at a hospital, you’re still entitled to receive other care and services there or to transfer to another hospital.

So ask for that referral, or see if your doctor’s office can reschedule you with a different provider. Don’t feel like you have to figure out everything about your health on your own.

The right to ask questions, and get answers

The American Medical Association Code of Ethics also includes the patient's right to ask questions about your health or treatment and have them answered.

Your provider’s job is to answer your questions, so don’t feel like you’re imposing on them by asking. Even if they seem to be rushing you out the door.

The right to courtesy, dignity, and respect, without bias 

Both the American Medical Association Code of Ethics and the American Hospital Association Patient’s Bill of Rights begin with the right to respectful care. 

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, meanwhile, prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics), in covered health programs or activities.

So what do you do when you feel disrespected? Whether you want to file a complaint or just find another medical provider, you have options to get the care you deserve.

Has this happened to you? 

We're here to listen.

The National Women’s Health Network shapes and supports consumer healthcare policy, identifies and exposes healthcare abuses, and mobilizes grassroots action for women’s health.

Power to Decide works to ensure that everyone has equitable access to the information, services, and support they need to have control over their bodies, and to make their own decisions related to their sexuality and reproduction throughout their lives.

Spread the word 

about patient rights.

Purchase any #PatientsHaveRights merchandise and the profits will be donated to the National Women’s Health Network and Power to Decide. Then, carry your Patient Rights swag about town and help share the message!