Epilepsy Talk

Your Hospital Rights… | September 28, 2010

Did you know?

1. You have the right to be treated with respect, whatever your condition, whatever your reason for being admitted to the hospital.

2. You should be made as comfortable as possible, whatever the situation. If there’s too much noise, have the situation rectified.  If the lights are making you photosensitive, ask that they be dimmed, or that you be placed where you can’t see them. If you are experiencing any seizure triggers, explain to the nurse and ask for a room change.

3. You can demand to be treated by a full-fledged doctor instead of a resident.  (Which is good news, since ER docs are not the brightest crayons in the box when it comes to epilepsy.)

4. You may have full access to your medical records and request copies, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act.

5. You have the right to “informed consent” where you are provided with a clear explanation with of details, risks and benefits prior to a test, treatment or procedure.

6. You may refuse to be examined or treated by someone you feel is not competent and ask for another doctor.

7. You can refuse any medication — as long as you are advised of the possible consequences.

8. You may designate any visitors you want – or don’t want — as long as you provide signed documentation and adhere to hospital visiting rules.  (I learned that the hard way when I was denied by my step-mother from visiting my dying father.)

9. You may have a patient advocate by your side 24 hours a day, whether it’s a relative, a loved one or even a hired professional advocate.

10. You have the right to request an ethics consultant (a physician, nurse, patient representative, and/or family member) in case there is a disparity in treatment or requests, such as “Do Not Resuscitate” options.

This information comes from Patient Advocate Trisha Torry, author of the book:  You Bet Your Life!  The 10 Mistakes Every Patient Makes   http://www.everypatientsadvocate.com/



  1. The DNR is the tough one with doctors. I am changing to a doctor who does not app;reciate my DNR. However, my husband makes the final deciscion. I also have someone else who will defend my rights if my husband is sick or not available.

    I have a DVD I am going to give my new doctor that will explain everything that is involved with a DNR.

    That DVD was important to the doctor who did my colonoscopy. He did not know what to do if it came to that. He understood from the DVD what to do and accepted it. In fact, he appreciated the information.

    My hospital is excellent when it comes to my care and seizures.

    Phylis, I am sorry that you had such a bad experience with your father. My husband would allow me to have all visitors, I hope. Maybe I should put that in my Advance Directive. I never thought of that.


    Comment by Ruth Brown — September 29, 2010 @ 2:48 PM

    • The DNR IS a tough one. My friend’s mother had a DNR on her hospital DOOR and they resusitated her 3 TIMES. And it HURT! Finally, she asked her husband to put something on her behalf in writing, so they would stop and let her die peacefully.

      As for my father, it was wretching. My charming step-mother had it all pre-arranged. I was “allowed” to go to the funeral, but when they had the unveiling (Jewish tradition where you “unveil” the gravestone), she arranged it when one aunt couldn’t come and asked the other aunt to please not tell me about the unveiling because she didn’t want me to show up. (Because I am such a “trouble maker”!!!)

      So in a fit of genius, the Feiners had their own unveiling on another day. (The aunt who couldn’t come is an assistant rabbi!) A bit bizarre, but you do what you have to.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 29, 2010 @ 7:26 PM

  2. Hello guests, I am teacher and I am wanna to place this nice text at my own edu website, with link to your blog, for my students.


    Comment by Free Patch — October 7, 2010 @ 2:24 PM

  3. It helps to have an advocate because I was in ER twice a couple weeks back for a sinus infection and allergic reaction, that caused my face to swell, to amoxicillin. My mom called my insurance 24 hour nurse line who confirmed it and told us to call 911 right a way. It helps to have some to talk for you.


    Comment by crystal cahill — September 15, 2015 @ 12:40 PM

  4. I was in the hospital for MRSA a few years ago and they gave me 4 different antibiotics until they hit pay dirt.

    Arthur was spitting gold fish.

    Unfortunately, my insurance has nothing like a 24 hour nurse.

    You are indeed, fortunate. And I’m glad everything worked out for you.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 15, 2015 @ 4:05 PM

  5. I live in a state that when I go to the hospital the only doctors I ever see are called hospitalists and you never see the same one twice. My husband is my advocate and try’s to get answers but it’s difficult because no one seems to know what’s going on, I went into the re with a migraine and wasn’t sure what else was wrong. After they did their tests and figured out it wasnt a seizure I asked for something for my migraine. They gave it to me. 4 hours later the did another blood draw and it tested with the migraine mds in my system. So the doctor told my husband that I was sick because if taking the pils and possibly taking to many. My husband started yelling that I hadn’t had anything for 4 day. Finally the stupid dr looked at the first blood draw not the second and then he said that I was withdrawing. My husband took me out of the hospital. Went to my doctor the next mirning. He did another blood test and said I dehydrated. Then told my husaband what to do.


    Comment by Deb — July 23, 2017 @ 12:47 PM

  6. When I am seizing I don’t refuse meds, my family had to beg them to give me meds, like Ativan. Hospitals have no clue what to do with an epileptic. Except of course send the bill.


    Comment by Barbara Monroe — May 4, 2018 @ 11:20 PM

  7. I thank you for this article ! We all need to know are rights in a hospital..


    Comment by maryleeparker — June 12, 2018 @ 2:49 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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