'Bill of Rights' benefits patients, providers

Dr. Jerry Bagel, director of the Psoriatic Treatment Center of Central New Jersey and a clinical associate professor at Columbia University, thinks doctors and patients share the responsibility of making sure psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are fully and fairly treated.

That's why he worked with the National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board, and Board of Trustees to create the new Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for People with Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis. Among its principles:

The right to clear skin and the best treatments with the least side effects

The bill enables patients to get the care they need and encourages doctors to stay informed about the latest treatments.

"Patients have a right to go to a physician or be referred to a physician who is interested in psoriasis specifically," he said. "And physicians need to learn more about the disease and its impacts on the psoriatic patient."

The right to feel comfortable

The bill addresses the emotional aspects of the disease. Simply reading it may be enough to motivate a patient to be more assertive about getting the care he or she needs, Bagel says.

"For many generations [psoriasis] was a stepchild disease. Part of the bill is telling patients that they have the right to feel comfortable, to speak to other people about psoriasis."

A tool for doctors

Dr. Bagel hopes that the bill will help physicians realize that if they are not comfortable discussing all of the psoriasis treatments available, their responsibility is to refer their patients to another provider.

"It gives physicians a new depth of understanding of the impact of the disease on people."

Empowerment, responsibility

"The bill is an impetus for patients to be more assertive, to take more action and be more responsible in taking care of their disorder. It is meant to be inspirational," Bagel said. "It just needed to be written down."

Read the full text of the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities »

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