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Patient Information & Handbook

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Patient Handbook

To view our Patient Handbook, please click here.

Patient Information

Nondiscrimination Policy

As a recipient of federal financial assistance, Harlingen Medical Center does not exclude, deny benefits to, or otherwise discriminate against any person on the grounds of race, color or national origin. We do not discriminate on the basis of disability or age.

This statement is in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 and the Regulations of the United States Department of Health and Human Services issued pursuant to the Acts, Title 45 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 80, 84 and 91. (Other federal laws and regulations provide similar protection against discrimination on grounds of sex and creed.)

If you have questions about this policy or if you want to file a complaint alleging violations of these laws please call the HMC Human Resources Department at 956-365-1004. You may also file a formal complaint with the Texas Department of Health at 888-973-0022. You may also send a written complaint to the Health Facility Compliance division of the Texas Department of Health at 1100 West 49th Street, Austin, TX 78756-3199.

Special Services to Persons with Disabilities

To provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from services, Harlingen Medical Center provides the following assistance:

  • Sign language interpreters, writing materials, flash cards, telephone amplification, and telecommunication devices. Call the hospital operator to use these devices.
  • Readers, personal assistance, large print, taped, and/or Braille materials.
  • Writing materials and communication boards.
  • Wheel chairs, personal assistance, and patient transporters.
  • Physically accessible to mobility-impaired persons.

For assistance with any of these services speak with your nurse.

Harlingen Medical Center and HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was signed by President William Jefferson Clinton August 21, 1996 and is considered to be the most comprehensive piece of legislation to affect healthcare since the introduction of Medicare. HIPAA regulations affect all healthcare providers including hospitals, physician’s offices, pharmacies, medical clearing-houses, and health plans. Collectively, these are known as “covered entities” under the HIPAA regulations.

Health Insurance Reform provisions require implementation of certain practices by health plans and insurers regarding the portability and continuity of health coverage. Administrative Simplification regulations set standards for electronic transactions, privacy of medical records and security of all stored Protected Health Information (PHI). All PHI, either written or in electronic form, is protected and safeguarded at Harlingen Medical Center.

Patients are assured that their PHI will not be accessed by or disclosed to any unauthorized entity. Harlingen Medical Center has addressed privacy concerns with the implementation of operational safeguards, and technological security features.

Patient Rights

  • You have the right to consent to treatment and may not be denied appropriate hospital care because of your race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex (sexual orientation, marital status), age handicap, or source of payment.
  • You have the right to be treated with consideration, respect, dignity, comfort, and privacy while receiving treatment and personal care.
  • You have the right to be interviewed and examined in surroundings designed to ensure reasonable visual and auditory privacy. This includes the right to have a person of one’s own sex present during certain parts of a physical examination, treatment, or procedure performed by a health professional of the opposite sex.
  • You have the right to confidentiality, security, pastoral care and/or other spiritual services while receiving treatment and care.
  • You have the right to have your medical records, including all computerized medical information be kept confidential.
  • You have the right to access information contained in your medical record within a reasonable time frame.
  • You have the right to know who is involved in the delivery of your care, and to receive information about your illness, course of treatment, outcomes of care, and prognosis for recovery in terms and language you can understand. The hospital will use alternative communication techniques or aides for those who are deaf or blind, or take other steps necessary to effectively communicate with you.
  • You have the right to make informed decisions regarding your care and the hospital must respect your wishes.
  • You have the right to participate, as a partner in the healthcare process, in the development, implementation, and revision of your plan of care, treatment, and discharge plans to meet your psychosocial, psychological, and medical needs.
  • You have the right to receive, at the time of admission, a copy of the Harlingen Medical Center Information Guide and be informed of the hospital’s methods of educating patients and staff about patient rights and their role in supporting these rights.
  • You have the right to have a family member of your choice and your own physician to be notified of your admission to the hospital.
  • You have the right to be transferred to another facility, with a full explanation of the reason for transfer, provision for continuing care, and acceptance by the receiving facility and physician. In case of emergencies, you will be stabilized prior to transfer.
  • You have the right to leave the hospital against your physician’s advice to the extent permitted by law. Once you leave the hospital “Against Medical Advice” (AMA), neither the hospital nor your physician will be responsible for any harm that this action might cause you or others.
  • You have the right to be free from all forms of abuse, neglect, harassment, and/or have access to protective services.
  • You (guardian, next of kin or legally responsible person) have the right to make medical care decisions, to formulate an advance directive, to modify your decisions, and to have the hospital staff and practitioners who provide care in the hospital comply with these directives.9
  • You have the right to participate in ethical questions/dilemmas that arise in the course of your care. These include issues of forgoing or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment; withholding resuscitative services, care at the end of life, and/or conflict resolution.
  • You have the right to participate in the donation of organs and other tissue after communicating with a Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA) representative.
  • You have the right to examine and receive an explanation of your hospital bill regardless of source of payment, and may receive upon request, information relating to financial assistance available through the hospital.
  • You have the right to have your pain assessed, re-assessed, and managed during your course of hospitalization and education on pain assessment and management preceding, during the hospitalization, and upon discharge.
  • You have the right to designate who may be permitted to visit during your hospital stay in accordance with hospital policy.
  • You have the right to be free from restraints and/or seclusion of any form that are not medically necessary. Restraints are not to be used as a means of coercion, discipline, convenience, or retaliation by the staff. If restraints are necessary, you have the right to have the least restrictive manner of restraint implemented, be continually assessed/monitored/re-evaluated within specific time periods, and end the use of restraints at the earliest possible time.
  • You have the right to know if their physician has a financial interest in the hospital.
  • The neonate, child, and adolescent patient and their parents/guardians shall be afforded the same rights and responsibilities as any adult patient.

Patient Responsibilities

  • You are responsible to give to the best of your knowledge, accurate and complete information about your present health complaints, past illness, hospitalizations, medications and other matters pertaining to your health care.
  • You are responsible for providing information about advance directives (documents that give information about future healthcare needs) should you be incapable of participating in such discussions.
  • You are responsible for informing the nursing staff or physician if you do not understand a proposed course of action or what is expected of you.
  • You are responsible for following the treatment plan recommended by your physician. You are responsible or advising those treating you whether or not you think that you cannot follow a certain treatment plan.
  • You are responsible for your actions if you refuse treatment or do not follow the physician’s instructions.
  • You are responsible for asking questions about your treatment, diagnosis or prognosis.
  • You are responsible for letting the nursing staff and physician know when you are having pain or if your pain is not being managed effectively.
  • You are responsible for knowing and following hospital rules and regulations, including noise control, smoking and number of visitors.
  • You are responsible for your personal belongings.
  • You are responsible for being cooperative and considerate during the treatment and care provided.
  • You are responsible for the financial obligations for care and hospitalization.
  • You are responsible for respect, privacy and confidentiality of other patients and employees.

Case Management and Social Services

The hospital has nursing and social work case managers to help patients and families with discharge planning needs. They tell you about options available to meet your discharge needs and offer advice and help with various options available for you when you are ready to move to a different level of care within the hospital or the community. Just ask your nurse if you want to speak with a case manager.

Patient Advocate

Harlingen Medical Center has a grievance process and regards all patient/family concerns or complaints as significant. Patients and/or guests can lodge a grievance either verbally or in writing with the Patient Advocate and shall be informed of the hospital’s policies and procedures for initiation, review, and resolution of such complaints. Grievances will be responded to within an appropriate time frame.

The Patient Advocate can be contacted at 956-365-1021.

Pain Control

At Harlingen Medical Center comfort is an essence. If you have pain during your visit, you have the right to have it managed effectively. It is your responsibility to work with your physician and nurse to set up a plan that works for you. Please review your patient rights and responsibilities as listed in this manual.

We use a scale of 0 to 10 to determine how much pain you are having. If you are having pain now or having a procedure that may cause some pain, we need to establish a level that you can tolerate. This level can change from day to day or morning to night. Below is the scale you will be asked to use. If you cannot use the scale, your pain will still be treated. Click here to view pain rating scale.

Everyone’s pain is different. Ask your physician or nurse what to expect. When your pain is controlled, chances are, you will recover faster. There are different medications that can reduce your pain. Don’t worry about getting “hooked” on pain medicines. Studies show that this is very rare – unless you already have a problem with drug abuse. Some medications are used “around the clock” while other medications are given only when you ask for them. Do not wait until the pain gets too bad to ask for medication. Your pain medication may be given in the form of “pills”, a “shot,” or injected through your IV line. There are times when more than one type of medicine is used together to relive your pain.

If you have any side effects such as constipation, nausea or itching, let your doctor or nurse know. In some cases, if you are having surgery or having baby, a PCA (patient controlled analgesia) or epidural infusion is used to control pain. Please discuss these methods in more detail with your doctor or nurse.

Infection Control

Harlingen Medical Center practices infection control to stop the spread of infection between patients, staff and visitors. Everyone plays a role in controlling infection in the hospital and can help by following these guidelines:

Wash your hands. This is the single most important infection control measure you and anyone else can use. Wash with soap and water using vigorous friction. Wash your hands after using the restroom, before eating, and after touching an unclean area. Family and visitors should also wash their hands.

  • If you see any kind of soiling, please tell the staff so that it is cleaned.
  • Do not eat other people’s food. Do not share your food with anyone. Do not use anyone’s linens or hygiene items.
  • Your visitors and family should not visit when they are ill or have an infection.
  • If you are in “isolation” please follow the rules and ask that all your visitors do the same. This may require a visitor to wear gloves, a gown, or a mask when visiting. An instruction card on the door will inform you if these precautions are needed.