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Helping New Brunswickers Know the Law

What's New

May 13, 2013

New publication helps patients understand their rights

Left to right: Deborah Doherty, Executive Director, PLEIS-NB; Dr. Lynn Hansen, President-Elect, New Brunswick Medical Society

Most of us participate in health care treatment at one time or another. That may involve visiting a physician, having dental work, receiving care in a nursing home, or ending up in the Emergency Room due to illness or accident.  However, as patients, many of us are not aware of our rights.

“As an anaesthesiologist in Fredericton, it’s important to me that patients give informed consent before a procedure,” says Dr Lynn Hansen, President-Elect of the New Brunswick Medical Society. “Patients can benefit greatly from this guide to their rights in the health system.”

A new booklet called Patients’ Rights provides an overview of some of the common questions and concerns that arise when individuals interact with their health care providers.  These questions can range from how an individual consents to treatment, at what age you can consent to treatment, what happens if you are incapacitated or mentally incompetent, and whether a patient can refuse treatment.  The booklet also provides information on patients’ privacy rights, how to access medical records, and how to make a complaint about a heath care provider.  Just as importantly, it covers your responsibilities as a patient such as asking questions, knowing what you are consenting to, following agreed upon treatment plans, and returning for regular check-ups if requested.

“Knowing how to obtain your medical record, asking questions of your medical providers, and making well-informed health care decisions are important abilities for every patient,” explains Dr Hansen.

This plain language booklet is produced by the Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS-NB).  It was developed with input from the New Brunswick Medical Society, the Public Trustee, the Office of the Access to Information and Privacy Commissioner, members of the Law Society of New Brunswick and a Patient’s Representative.

PLEIS-NB is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate and inform the public about the law. It receives funding and in-kind support from Justice Canada, the New Brunswick Law Foundation and the New Brunswick Office of the Attorney General.

“Patients’ Rights” is being distributed to libraries, hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, seniors’ organizations and other groups around the province.  It is also available on PLEIS-NB’s website at www.legal-info-legale.nb.ca. For more information or to order copies, contact PLEIS-NB at P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5H1 or call 506-453-5369, fax 506-462-5193.