The American Medical Association, in the Fundamental Elements of the Patient-Physician Relationship section of its Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs Code of Medical Ethics, outlines its views on the rights of patients. Briefly summarized, these include the patient’s right:

1- to get information and guidance from the physician on the benefits, risks, and costs of appropriate treatment alternatives;

2- to obtain copies or summaries of his or her medical record and have questions answered;

3- to be made aware of potential conflicts of interest that his or her physician might have;

4- to make decisions about health care recommendations by the physician, accepting or refusing those recommendations;

5- to be treated with courtesy and respect and to receive timely attention to requests;

6- to confidentiality, except when the law provides otherwise;

7- to continuity of healthcare, the physician not discontinuing treatment when treatment is indicated without giving the patient sufficient opportunity to make other arrangements for care;

8- to availability of adequate health care, a goal toward which physicians and society should strive.

( For more detail, see the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs Code of Medical Ethics: Current Opinions with Annotations, 1996-97 edition. )