Patients’ Rights Bill Introduced In TN For Second Year In A Row

Image Credit: capitol.tn.gov & Jernej Furman / CC

The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –

In light of the last couple years, Tennesseans have become increasingly aware of how vital patients’ rights are to the health, safety, and freedom of themselves and their loved ones.

Last year, despite the support of many Tennesseans, a patients’ rights bill introduced by Rep. Todd Warner (R-Chapel Hill-District 92) died in committee.

At the time, The Tennessee Conservative covered the outrage of Tennesseans who showed up to support the bill in committee and were denied the opportunity to testify by Former Rep. Bob Ramsey, then Chair of the House Subcommittee on Health.

However, the residents of Tennessee may actually get the opportunity to share their testimony this year, as Rep. Warner has now introduced this legislation again, as House Bill 0377 (HB0377).

The bill is generally meant to make sure patients’ rights are properly acknowledged in health care facilities across the state.

This legislation would ensure patients are allowed visitation by family members and advocates, especially in the case that the patient cannot make his or her own medical decisions. 

The rights outlined in HB0377 are based on the provisions of Tennessee Rule 1200-08-01-.12 which states that “each patient has, at a minimum, the right to privacy in treatment and personal care; the right to be free from mental and physical abuse; the right to refuse treatment; the right to refuse experimental treatment and drugs; the right to have access to a phone number to call if there are questions or complaints about care; the right to be involved in the decision-making of all aspects of their care; and the right to self-determination, which encompasses the right to make choices regarding life-sustaining treatment.”

HB0377 reiterates the rights of a patient, specifically including the rights to:

1 – Administration of treatment

2 – Alternative treatment available under emergency use authorization

3 – To transfer or release from care

4 – Access an advocate

5 – Freedom from unreasonable constraint or sedation

6 – Being roomed with family members

7 – A transplant

8 – Avoid discrimination in admission or treatment

9 – Privacy with regards to medical record

10 -Be given notice of patients’ rights

The language of this bill goes on to note that although certain rights may not be directly stated in the text, they do still exist. 

Rep. Warner’s drafting of the bill goes on to clarify that this legislation is a response to the “many Tennesseans who have been in the care of healthcare facilities, or their surviving loved ones, have expressed frustrations with the denial of the specific rights expressed [in the previously mentioned rule].”

It is worth noting that the House Subcommittee on Health, by whom HB0377 will be discussed, is now chaired by Rep. David Hawk (R-Greeneville-District 5) as Former Chair Rep. Bob Ramsey did not win re-election in Tennessee’s 20th District. 

This legislation would take effect immediately upon becoming law.

About the Author: Adelia Kirchner is a Tennessee resident and reporter for the Tennessee Conservative. Currently the host of Subtle Rampage Podcast, she has also worked for the South Dakota State Legislature and interned for Senator Bill Hagerty’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee.

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