Patient Right to Know Act Law and Legal Definition

A patient's right to know encompasses various types of disclosure regarding health care. It typically covers health care outcomes, physician profiles and malpractice reporting, hospital performance and safety information. About one-half of the states publish physicians' malpractice records and other information, such as education and certification on the Internet. Some states require health plans to report their health care performance in early childhood development, children with chronic conditions, and adolescent preventive care. The term may be used in a broader sense to include a patient's right to know their medical condition, unanticipated outcomes, risks, etc. Some states, such as Illinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Florida, New York, and Virginia, require hospitals to report their infection rates to the public. Requirements vary by state, so local law should be consulted.

The “Patient’s Right to Know Act” in Georgia, for example, makes it mandatory for the state medical licensing board to require physicians to verify and report information about their educational training and practice specialty. You will also be able to see if your physician’s license is currently active, or if he/she is currently receiving disciplinary action by your state medical board.

Some states have enacted patient right to know laws to provide for creation, contents, and dissemination of physician profiles; to provide for access to information about medical providers and services; to provide for the right to file a grievance against a medical provider with respect to the provider, his or her office, and the services rendered; to require a board investigate every grievance filed; to establish the right of the patient to inquire about the cost of treatment prior to receiving such treatment; to provide for notices; and to prohibit certain other acts.

The rationale behind these laws is that the practice of medicine works best when information on medical costs and quality is disclosed and publicized, health care providers and insurers are rewarded for their success, and when consumers know and exercise their rights to manage their health care decisions.