Regulatory & JC Notices

Joint Commission Public Notice

The Healthcare Proxy Law

What is a Health Care Proxy?

The Health Care Proxy is a simple legal document that allows you to name someone you know and trust to make decisions about your medical care when you are unable to communicate. The person that you designate is known as your Health Care Agent. It will be important to discuss your wishes and values regarding medical treatments, including life-sustaining measures, with the person you intend to be your Health Care Agent. Your agent will be expected to follow your directives in making decisions on your behalf. If your agent does not have this information, then your agent is to make decisions based on his or her assessment of your best interest. Your agent cannot act for you until your doctor determines, in writing, that you lack the ability to make health care decisions.

Who is eligible?

Under the Massachusetts Health Care Proxy Law, any competent adult 18 years of age or over may appoint a Health Care Agent. There are some restrictions on who can serve as a Health Care Agent and who can be a witness. These are explained in the instructions for completing a Health Care Proxy. There are no fees or public filing requirements.

Where can I obtain a Health Care Proxy?

Your physician's office will have Health Care Proxies, as will the hospital. Ask for one during the admissions process, or ask a nurse, a Patient Representative or Case manager.

Cape Cod Hospital will provide you with assistance in completing a Health Care Proxy. This may be accomplished by contacting Pastoral Care at ext. 25287 or the Patient Representative office at ext. 25400.
You may wish to discuss medical treatment options with your physician prior to completing a Health Care Proxy.

A copy of your Health Care Proxy will be filed in your Cape Cod Hospital Medical Record. Your physician, your agent and a family member should also have a copy of your Health Care Proxy.

Massachusetts's law does not require that you have a Health Care Proxy. Completing one will assure you and Cape Cod Hospital that you will receive medical treatment in accordance with your wishes. Medical care is not conditioned. nor will any discrimination occur, based on whether you have a Health Care Proxy,.

Patient's Rights and Responsibilities

  • Know the name and specialty of any doctor or any other person who is caring for you.
  • Expect care that is considerate and respectful.
  • Expect that we consider your psychosocial, spiritual and cultural variables.
  • Confidential treatment records and communications to the extent covered by law. If your hospital bill will be paid by a third party (such as an insurance plan, Medicare, etc.), it will be available to third parties for inspection and copying in order to support your claim. Your records will also be available for peer review and utilization review.
  • Receive prompt and adequate response to your reasonable request.
  • Effective pain control as an important part of your treatment; your healthcare team will respond to your reports of pain.
  • Know the relationship of Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital to any other health care facility or educational facility if the relationship affects your care of treatment.
  • Be informed of any rules or regulations of Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital which you, as a patient, must observe.
  • Ask for and be informed about available financial assistance and free heath care.
  • Ask for and examine your medical records and receive a copy of them. (There is a fee charged to cover copying costs.)
  • Refuse to be examined, observed or treated by students or any other hospital staff without jeopardizing access to psychiatric, psychological or other medical care attention.
  • Refuse to serve as a research subject.
  • Refuse any care or examination conducted solely for the education or information of others.
  • Insist on privacy during care and treatment to the extent that the hospital is able to provide it.
  • Receive prompt, life-saving treatment in an emergency with discussion of payment when a delay would impose material risk to your health.
  • Be informed about risks, benefits and likely outcome of any treatment or procedures and have an opportunity to consent to treatment and care to the extent provided by law. Remember to ask your doctor about your medical care.
  • Participate in all aspects of planning for your discharge and appeal any plans which you disagree.
  • Ask for and receive an itemized copy of your bill or other statement of charges submitted to third party (insurance, Medicare, etc.)

In addition to the above rights, if you are suffering from any form of breast cancer, you have the right to complete information of all forms or medically viable treatments available.

Violation of any of these rights entitles you to bring civil action, in addition to any other action allowed by law or regulation.

A complete copy of the law will be provided to you upon admission to the hospital.  

Any questions may be directed to:

  • Cape Cod Hospital
    Patient Representative Office
    ext.25400, 25401, or 508-862-5400, 508-862-5401
  • Falmouth Hospital
    Patient Complaints
    508-457-3948
    Quality Management
    508-457-3517
  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health
    80 Boylston Street
    Boston, MA 02116
    617-753-8000
    800-462-5540
  • The Board of Registration of Medicine
    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
    10 West Street
    Boston, MA 02111
    617-727-1788

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