Healthcare law was a hot topic this year, thanks to the Affordable Care Act challenge in the Supreme Court. While the healthcare case raised a number of questions regarding how the law should be applied to medical needs on a broader scale, there are many ways that the legal system can affect patients individually.

FindLaw has highlighted just a few of the legal issues that patients should be aware of:

  • Employment Discrimination. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that sets minimum unpaid leave standards and rights for employees who have health problems, sick family members or who are giving birth to or adopting children. Covered employees can take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period under the FMLA. If you are facing a medical situation that may make it difficult to work for a lengthy period of time, you should familiarize yourself with your employer’s leave policies. If you have been terminated from a job or otherwise adversely affected for taking health or family-related leave, you may want to speak with an employment attorney.
  • Medical Battery. A patient has the right to refuse medical treatment, and can leave a hospital or healthcare facility against medical advice. A doctor who fails to obtain informed consent for non-emergency treatment may be charged with a civil and/or criminal offense, including medical battery.
  • Living Wills. The essence of a will is to provide instructions. Just as a last will and testament instructs your lawyer or family how you want your assets to be divided, a living will, also known as a healthcare directive, explains your wishes should you become too ill to make medical decisions for yourself. Consider writing your own living will — has a sample, if you need one — or contacting an attorney to help you complete a healthcare directive.

Whether you want to better understand your health insurance benefits or protect yourself against healthcare fraud, has resources to help you learn about the legal aspects of your healthcare decisions.

— Michelle Croteau, Director of Marketing Communications
with Robyn Hagan Cain, FindLaw Audience Team

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