Participation in Treatment Decisions

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Consumers have the right and responsibility to fully participate in all decisions related to their healthcare. Consumers who are unable to fully participate in treatment decisions have the right to be represented by parents, guardians, family members, or other conservators. Physicians and other health professionals should:

• Provide patients with sufficient information and opportunity to decide among treatment options consistent with the informed consent process.

• Discuss all treatment options with a patient in a culturally competent manner, including the option of no treatment at all.

• Ensure that persons with disabilities have effective communications with members of the health system in making such decisions.

• Discuss all current treatments a consumer may be undergoing.

• Discuss all risks, benefits, and consequences to treatment or nontreatment.

• Give patients the opportunity to refuse treatment and to express preferences about future treatment decisions.

• Discuss the use of advance directives -- both living wills and durable powers of attorney for healthcare -- with patients and their designated family members.

• Abide by the decisions made by their patients and/ or their designated representatives consistent with the informed consent process.

Health plans, health providers, and healthcare facilities should:

• Disclose to consumers factors -- such as methods of compensation, ownership of or interest in healthcare facilities, or matters of conscience -that could influence advice or treatment decisions.

• Assure that provider contracts do not contain any so-called "gag clauses" or other contractual mechanisms that restrict healthcare providers' ability to communicate with and advise patients about medically necessary treatment options.

• Be prohibited from penalizing or seeking retribution against healthcare professionals or other health workers for advocating on behalf of their patients.

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