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Pregnant Patients and the Hospital: Know Your Rights

Pregnant Patients and the Hospital: Know Your Rights via Babble.comWhen I was 18 weeks and 5 days pregnant with my twin boys, my water broke. I was rushed to the nearest hospital and left in the hallway of the ER for 30 minutes while people repeatedly asked what I was there for. I was refused admittance to the L&D because of my weeks (under 20) and wheeled up and down the floors as fluid leaked from me.

Once in a room, I laid on a bed for 4 hours hooked to nothing, and had a doctor pop in to tell me that the ultrasound I’d asked for showed both amniotic sacs broken, a foot in my cervix (not true), and zero chance of survival for either baby. As I bawled, he asked if I’d like to go home or go to my hospital a few miles away. I chose to go to my hospital, that admitted me to L&D.

I spent the next 4 days fighting for the rights to deliver my babies naturally or have a miracle, while repeatedly being told I might die and that I didn’t understand what I was doing. I was woken up the second night to be moved into another room at 1am to save on insurance costs, I was refused any medications or an IV. I repeatedly had to ask for standard medications I’d been prescribed during my pregnancy.

On Monday, I had a resident who didn’t introduce himself barge into my room, alone, at 5am, wake me up to belittle me about my choice and tell me I was taking up an expensive hospital bed while my babies had no chance or surviving. He asked why I didn’t “just go home”? Unable to move and half asleep, I tweeted after he left:

 Courtesy of Strollerderby and Katherine Stone.

After my husband, family, and several thousand of you all stepped in to intervene, things changed in a hurry.

I lost my babies – but I had it happen my way, and in the months to come that saved my sanity. My regrets now are from lack of understanding what my rights were. That being pregnant does not make it ok for you not to be told about things or to have decisions forced on you. I should have known more about my responsibilities as a patient and so much of what happened would have been stopped earlier and with less publicity.

It’s up to you to know your rights. To tell a hospital that handling a pregnant woman isn’t dealing with someone stupid, hysterical, or uninformed. We are patients. We want to be told our choices and the probable outcomes, and then left to make a decision that is respected. Even if you plan on home-birthing or using a birth center, there is a chance you could end up in the hospital at some point. Get informed. Ask for a copy of their policies. Ask for a patient advocate.

Pro-life. Pro-choice. It’s not up to the hospital to dictate how you feel or what you believe in. At the end of the day, you’re the one left with the decision you chose. Make sure you did everything you could to know it was the one you wanted and fought for. Not one you were blindly pressured into.

 


  • Right to be free 1 of 14
    Right to be free
    While in labor, you have the right to be free of wires, tubes, etc and to choose any position you would like to labor in. You do not have to be forced on your back, to a bed, or to lay still.
    Read more at Childbirth Connection
  • Right to change your mind 2 of 14
    Right to change your mind
    You have the right to know about all procedures and their risks/benefits and the right to change your mind at any time even if you signed consent. It's your hospital stay, it may complicate things but it's your right.
    Read more at Childbirth Connection
  • Right to your records 3 of 14
    Right to your records
    You can ask for your full records at anytime, and the help to understand them if needed.
    Read more at About.com
  • Right to know identities 4 of 14
    Right to know identities
    You have the right to ask anyone that steps foot in your hospital room who they are and what their experience/training is. You have the right to refuse to see them or to ask for their supervisor to be in the room.
    Read more at About.com
  • Right to change doctors 5 of 14
    Right to change doctors
    If you find that you aren't comfortable with your doctor, you can change at anytime. Most medical professionals recommend trying to talk to your doctor first about concerns, and understand the later in your pregnancy, the harder it might be to find a doctor willing to take you.
    Read more at Parents.com
  • Right to know your options 6 of 14
    Right to know your options
    Long before labor, you have a right to know what your options are for feeding and bonding with your baby. You can tell staff no pacifiers, no bottles, you don't want to breastfeed, and/or you'd like a lactation consultant to help you. If there are none available you have the right to bring one in.
    Read more atBFHI USA
  • Right to exclude your partner 7 of 14
    Right to exclude your partner
    Dads and partners to be are always a huge part of the process, but when it comes to your body, you get the final say. Any choice you make overrides theirs as long as you are in a sound state of mind.
  • Right to refuse exams by anyone 8 of 14
    Right to refuse exams by anyone
    Just because someone is on staff does not mean you have to be seen by them. You can also request not to see a certain member of the medical staff if you aren't comfortable with how they work with you.
    Read more at Allina Health
  • Right to refuse/accept any procedure 9 of 14
    Right to refuse/accept any procedure
    Planned on an epidural? You have the right to get one as long as you're in the time frame for it. Wanted to avoid an episiotomy? Your choice to refuse. Although doctors will tell you the risks and affects to any decision, it's ultimately up to you. Note that in some cases, refusing treatment or to comply with policy may make your doctor unable to work with you, and cause problems with insurance.
    Read more at Baby Zone
  • Right to another woman present 10 of 14
    Right to another woman present
    No matter who the doctor is, you have full rights to ask for another woman in the room be it a friend or a another doctor/nurse.
    Read more at childbirth Connection
  • Right to have your partner present 11 of 14
    Right to have your partner present
    You have the right to have someone present during your hospital stay/labor. Depending on hospital rules, it may limit the number of people allowed in the room at a certain time, but you don't ever have to be alone if you want someone with you.
    Read more at Childbirth Connection
  • Right to medical assistance anywhere 12 of 14
    Right to medical assistance anywhere
    No matter where you choose to have your child, you have the right to receive medical assistance (if needed) anywhere you are. Whether the staff looking out for you approved of it or not.
    Read more at Childbirth Connection
  • Right for medical care that honors your culture and/or religion 13 of 14
    Right for medical care that honors your culture and/or religion
    Although this gets tricky in some hospitals based on religions, you have the right to receive medical care according to your cultural and/or religious status, and to be transferred to another hospital if needed.
    Read more at ACLU
  • Right to be told about alternative care 14 of 14
    Right to be told about alternative care
    A pregnant woman has the right to ask and be told about other options during her care, from pregnancy to labor to treatment after. You do not have to take the first choice, the most popular option, and you can always ask for a second opinion.
    Read more at Allina Health

 

Note: This article is intended as general information only and is not intended to serve as legal advice or as a substitute for legal counsel.

———————

Diana blogs on raising a toddler daughter, the loss of her twin boys, and their families’ adoption on the aptly named Hormonal ImbalancesSmaller glimpses into her day are on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.

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