U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Indian Health Service: The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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Contract Health Services

Patient Rights and Grievances

The IHS provides the determination of those persons who come within the scope of the Indian Health (IH) program. A person may be regarded as with in the 'if he is not-otherwise, exclude therefrom by provision of law. The IHS policy on patients rights and grievance publication of information on patient rights and effective grievance procedures is contained. This is provided in IH manual Part 2, Chapter 1. Each person or patient with in the IH program has rights regarding the health care services provided.

Each IHS Area will develop and publicize a written statement of patient rights. The statements of patient rights developed at the minimum these statements must include an affirmation of the patient's rights to:

  • services, within their availability or capability of being provided.
  • considerate and respectful treatment
  • privacy, and confidentiality of medical information vinformation on his or her condition, including the right to give or withhold consent for treatment, referral, or transfer.
  • continuity of care, and information regarding what health services are available, and where and how they may be obtained.
  • knowledge of hospital rules and regulations applying to patient conduct.
  • access to an established patient grievance procedure.
  • selection of an interpreter when requested and available.

The Area will have in place a mechanism to insure that patient grievances are given full and fair consideration to the highest level of appeal. The Area's grievance procedure will include a provision that a designated grievance committee exist as each Service Unit. This committee may be the local Indian Health Board or it may be another group or committee which includes Indian representatives, and which has been approved for this purpose by the local tribal government and Service Unit administration. Ultimate appeal at the local level will be to the Service Unit Director, who must initiate an investigation and provide a written reply, both within specified periods of time. Unresolved complaints may then be appealed to the Area Health. Board and/or the Area Director. Final decisions will be made by the Area Director.

The Area will insure that each Service Unit has a positive mechanism for disseminating information on patient rights and the grievance process. At the minimum, written explanations of the grievance process and patient rights must be posted prominently in the waiting areas of all IHS facilities, periodically distributed to the community, and included in the orientation process for all new IHS staff.

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