Patients Rights Are For All To See
(Left to Right): Raul Russi, Pam Martel, Assemblyman Dinowitz, Hector Diaz, Guimer
Marting, Ingle Stephens, and Carlos Montalvo at Bronx Addiction Services Integrated
Concept Systems (BASICS).
In recent years our healthcare system has changed dramatically, and the way we
are treated as patients by doctors and hospitals has changed as well. In order to
protect patients from burdensome healthcare obstacles, the need for a medical
patient’s bill of rights became apparent, and was brought to fruition.
In spite of the protections now provided through the medical patient’s bill of rights,
work still needs to be done to ensure that vulnerable and stigmatized groups such
as persons suffering from mental illness, developmental disabilities and chemical
dependency are entitled to the same type of rights and protections that are afforded
to persons seeking other forms of medical care. While great strides have recently
been made in protecting the rights of our most vulnerable citizens, there is still a
deep-rooted stigma against persons seeking recovery from addiction. In order to help
overcome some of the stigma that still lingers, the Committee determined that
enumerating in statute the rights that persons in treatment are entitled to will help to
provide essential protections to this troubled population.
(Left to Right): Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Senator Serphin Maltese, and Richard
Pruss participate in the dual ribbon cutting ceremony for their new Methadone-to- Abstinence
facility and their new Veterans Program at the Samaritan Village Center in Astoria, New York.
In order to protect the rights of persons starting down the long and hard road to recovery
from addiction, the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse along with the Assembly
Majority led by Speaker Silver passed the “Chemical Dependence Treatment Bill of Rights”
(A.9766-A) that would list a number of rights such patients would be entitled to. These rights
would not supersede any requirements of parole or of court order or any other mandate such
patients might be under if they are involved with the legal system. Instead these rights would
help ensure that even people whose lives have been taken over by drugs are still human beings
and still deserve to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness as they try to get their lives
back on track.
For example, the bill would help ensure that persons in recovery have the right to considerate,
respectful care from all members of the treatment system. Consumers would not be discriminated
against in the delivery of treatment services consistent with the benefits covered in their insurance
policy or as required by law. Consumers would have the right and responsibility to participate in all
decisions related to their treatment and in the creation of the individualized plan for their recovery.
Finally, all participants in treatment would be entitled to privacy while participating in a recovery
Recovery helps not only the person who seeks it, it also helps to reunite families, lower crime rates
and restore communities. Any steps we can take to ensure that the treatment process is safe,
respectful and therapeutic will ultimately benefit all residents of New York.