If you are unhappy with the home health or hospice care you are receiving, you should take the following steps:
Notify the home care provider's chief supervisor or administrator.
Notify a state health department or Medicare representative.
Notify the Better Business Bureau.
In addition, federal law requires that all individuals receiving home care services be informed of their rights as patients. According to the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), home healthcare patients have the right to:
Be fully informed of all their rights and responsibilities by the home care agency.
Choose care providers.
Receive appropriate and professional care consistent with healthcare provider's orders.
Receive a timely response from the agency to a request for service.
Be admitted for service only if the agency has the ability to provide safe, professional care at the level of intensity needed.
Receive reasonable continuity of care.
Receive information necessary to give informed consent prior to the start of any treatment or procedure.
Be advised of any change in the plan of care, before the change is made.
Refuse treatment within the confines of the law and to be informed of the consequences of their actions.
Be informed of their rights under state law to formulate advanced directives.
Have healthcare providers comply with advance directives in accordance with state law requirements.
Be informed within a reasonable period of time of anticipated termination of service or plans for transfer to another agency.
Be fully informed of agency policies and charges for services, including eligibility for third-party reimbursements.
Be referred elsewhere, if denied service solely on their inability to pay.
Voice grievances and suggest changes in service or staff without fear of restraint or discrimination.
Receive a fair hearing for any individual to whom any service has been denied, reduced, or terminated, or who is otherwise aggrieved by agency action. The fair hearing procedure shall be set forth by each agency as appropriate to the unique patient situation (for example, funding source, level of care, diagnosis).
Be informed of what to do in the event of an emergency.
Be made aware of the telephone number and hours of operation of the state's home health hotline. This hotline receives questions and complaints about Medicare-certified and state-licensed home care agencies.
According to NAHC's affiliate, the Hospice Association of America, hospice patients have the right to:
Receive care of the highest quality.
Have relationships with hospice organizations that are based on ethical standards of conduct, honesty, dignity, and respect.
In general, be admitted by a hospice organization only if it is assured that all necessary services will be provided to promote the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being of the dying patient. However, an organization with less than the best resources may admit the patient if a more appropriate hospice organization is not available. This can happen only after fully informing the client of its limitations and the lack of suitable alternative arrangements.
Be notified in writing of their rights and obligations before hospice care begins. Consistent with state laws, the patient's family or guardian may exercise the patient's rights when the patient is unable to do so. Hospice organizations have an obligation to protect and promote the rights of their patients.
Be notified in writing of the care the hospice organization will furnish, the types of caregivers who will furnish the care, and how often services will be provided.
Be advised of any change in the plan of care before the change is made.
Participate in the planning of the care and in planning changes in the care. Also, to be advised that they have the right to do so.
Refuse services and to be advised of the consequences of refusing care.
Request a change in caregiver without fear of reprisal or discrimination.
Have confidentiality with regard to information about their health, social, and financial circumstances, and about what takes place in the home.
Expect the hospice organization to release information only as consistent with its internal policy, required by law, or authorized by the client.
Be informed of the extent to which payment may be expected from Medicare, Medicaid, or any other payer known to the hospice organization.
Be informed of any charges that will not be covered by Medicare, and the charges for which he or she may be liable. This information must be received orally and in writing within 15 working days of the date the hospice organization becomes aware of any changes in charges.
Have access, on request, to all bills for service the patient has received regardless of whether they are paid out-of-pocket or by another party.
Be informed of the hospice's ownership status and its affiliation with any entities to whom the patient is referred.
Be informed of the procedure they can follow to lodge complaints with the hospice organization about the current care or lack of care, and regarding a lack of respect for property.
Know about the disposition of such complaints.
Voice grievances without fear of discrimination or reprisal for having done so.
Be told what to do in the case of an emergency.