Just yesterday a customer indicated he was having difficulty getting a copy of his CPAP prescription faxed to us from his doctor's office. The customer said that his doctor had informed him that he could only buy CPAP equipment from the local provider recommended by the doctor. This makes me wonder if the doctor has a financial reason for lying to his patient.

My suggestion to our customer was to tell his doctor that he needs a copy of his prescription for traveling. Imagine being out of town when your CPAP machine or CPAP mask breaks. If you need to buy a new CPAP machine or a new CPAP mask or CPAP mask parts, you wouldn't be able to do so at a local supplier without a prescription. With a copy of your CPAP prescription in hand while traveling, you have nothing to worry about. Not that I want you to buy your CPAP equipment from local suppliers, but having your prescription always gives you that option when you have no other choice. And even if you don't travel much, this is nevertheless a compelling reason for the doctor to give you a copy of your prescription.

This isn't the first time one of our customers has informed us of the difficulty in obtaining a copy of his or her prescription, and it got me thinking about patients' rights. I've always told people that prescriptions written for them belong to them, and that they have every right to have a copy of their prescriptions - and at the very least can have their prescriptions faxed to their provider of choice. I believe this view is confirmed by the Patients' Bill of Rights which was crafted beginning in 1997 and finished in 1998. Specifically, take a look at points #2 and #6 below.

Patients quite often feel a little helpless when receiving health care services, and the Patients' Bill of Rights serves as a good guide to let you know what you should expect from your health care providers. Although not necessarily adopted by all health care providers, it is mandated that all federal healthcare providers and providers who accept federally-funded insurance plans (e.g. Medicare) adhere to these guidelines and support patients' rights. I think these rights are generally accepted by most, if not all, health care professionals.

Here is a reproduction of the Patients' Bill of Rights.

(1) Information Disclosure
You have the right to receive accurate and easily understood information about your health plan, health care professionals, and health care facilities. If you speak another language, have a physical or mental disability, or just don’t understand something, assistance will be provided so you can make informed health care decisions.

(2) Choice of Providers and Plans
You have the right to a choice of health care providers that is sufficient to provide you with access to appropriate high-quality health care.

(3) Access to Emergency Services
If you have sever pain, an injury, or sudden illness that convinces you that your health is in serious jeopardy, you have the right to receive screening and stabilization emergency services whenever and wherever needed, without prior authorization or financial penalty.

(4) Participation in Treatment Decisions
You have the right to know all your treatment options and to participate in decisions about your care. Parents, guardians, family members, or other individuals that you designate can represent you if you cannot make your own decisions.

(5) Respect and Nondiscrimination
You have a right to considerate, respectful and nondiscriminatory care from your doctors, health plan representatives, and other health care providers.

(6) Confidentiality of Health Information
You have the right to talk in confidence with health care providers and to have your health care information protected. You also have the right to review and copy your own medical record and request that your physician amend your record if it is not accurate, relevant, or complete.

(7) Complaints and Appeals
You have the right to a fair, fast, and objective review of any compliant you have against your health plan, doctors, hospitals or other health care personnel. This includes complaints about waiting times, operating hours, the conduct of health care personnel, and the adequacy of health care facilities.

Check out Consumer.gov for more information.

Andrew Senske

CPAP-Supply.com is a leading online retailer of CPAP equipment. Located in Spokane, WA CPAP-Supply.com has been serving thousands of customers around the world since 2001. Founded on a belief that patients are their own best primary care providers, CPAP-Supply.com understands the importance of educating patients and customers on both the effects of and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. For more information visit CPAP-Supply.com or call toll free 1-888-955-2727.

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