Patient Bill of Rights
The American Hospital Association developed "A
Patient's Bill of Rights" with the belief that it will
add to more effective patient care and be supported by the
hospital on behalf of the organization, its medical staff,
employees, and patients.
Health care involves a partnership between
patients and doctors and other health care professionals.
Open communication, respect for personal and professional
standards, and understanding of differences are important
for the best possible patient care. Hospitals should:
- Provide a base for understanding and
respecting the rights and responsibilities of patients,
their families, doctors, and other caregivers;
- respect the role of patients in decision
making about treatment choices and other care; and
- be aware of cultural, racial, language,
religious, age, gender, and other differences as well as
the needs of persons with disabilities.
Hospitals have many functions to perform,
including treating injury and disease, health promotion and
prevention, rehabilitation of patients, education of health
professionals, patients, and the community, and research.
All these activities should be conducted with concern for
the values and dignity of patients.
The following information was adapted from
the American Hospital Association's "A Patient's Bill
of Rights". It is not a State law.
A Patient's Bill of Rights
Another person chosen by the patient can
exercise these rights on the patient's behalf. A proxy decision
maker can exercise these rights if the patient lacks decision-making
ability, is legally incompetent, or is a minor.
- The patient has the right to considerate
and respectful care.
- The patient has the right to and is
encouraged to obtain from doctors and other direct caregivers
appropriate, current, and understandable information about
diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. Except in emergencies
when the patient lacks decision-making ability and the
need for treatment is urgent, the patient is entitled to
the chance to discuss and request information about the
specific procedures and/or treatments, the risks involved,
the possible length of recuperation, and the medically
reasonable alternatives and their risks and benefits. Patients
have the right to know the identity of doctors, nurses,
and others involved in their care, as well as when those
involved are students, patients, or other trainees. The
patient also has the right to know the immediate and long-term
financial implications of treatment choices, insofar as
they are known.
- The patient has the right to make decisions
about the plan of care before and during treatment. The
patient has the right to refuse a recommended treatment
or plan of care to the extent allowed by law and hospital
policy and to be informed of the medical consequences of
this action. In case of refusal, the patient is entitled
to other appropriate care and services that the hospital
provides or transfers to another hospital. The hospital
should notify patients of any policy that might affect
patient choice within the institution.
- The patient has the right to have an
advance directive (such as a living will, health care proxy,
or durable power of attorney for health care) concerning
treatment or designating a surrogate decision maker with
the expectation that the hospital will honor the intent
of that directive to the extent permitted by law and hospital
policy. Health care institutions must tell patients of
their rights under state law and hospital policy to make
informed medical choices, ask if the patient has an advance
directive, and include that information in patient records.
The patient has the right to timely information about hospital
policy that may limit its ability to implement fully a
legally valid advance directive.
- The patient has the right to every consideration
of privacy. Case discussion, consultation, examination,
and treatment should be conducted so as to protect each
- The patient has the right to expect
that all communications and records related to his/her
care will be treated as confidential by the hospital, except
in cases such as suspected abuse and public health hazards
when reporting is permitted or required by law. The patient
has the right to expect that the hospital will stress the
confidentiality of this information when it releases it
to any other parties entitled to review information in
- The patient has the right to review
the records about his/her care and to have the information
explained or interpreted as necessary, except when restricted
- The patient has the right to expect
that, within its capacity and policies, a hospital will
make reasonable response to a patient's request for appropriate
and medically indicated care and services. The hospital
must provide evaluation, service, and/or referral as indicated
by the urgency of the case. When medically appropriate
and legally permitted, or when a patient has requested,
a patient may be transferred to another facility. The institution
to which the patient is to be transferred must first have
accepted the patient for transfer. The patient must also
have the benefit of complete information and explanation
concerning the need for, risks, benefits, and alternatives
to such a transfer.
- The patient has the right to ask and
be informed of business relationships among the hospital,
educational institutions, other health care providers,
or payers that may influence the patient's treatment and
- The patient has the right to consent
to or decline to take part in research studies or human
experimentation affecting care and treatment or requiring
direct patient involvement, and to have those studies fully
explained prior to consent. A patient who declines to take
part in research or experimentation is entitled to the
most effective care that the hospital can otherwise provide.
- The patient has the right to expect
reasonable continuity of care when appropriate and to be
informed by doctors and other caregivers of available and
realistic patient care options when hospital care is no
- The patient has the right to be informed
of hospital policies and practices that relate to patient
care treatment, and responsibilities. The patient has the
right to be informed of available resources for resolving
disputes, grievances, and conflicts, such as ethics committees,
patient representatives, or other mechanisms available
in the institution. The patient has the right to be informed
of the hospital's charges for services and available payment
The partnership nature of health care requires
that patients, or their families/surrogates, take part in
their care. The effectiveness of care and patient satisfaction
with the treatment depends, in part, on the patient fulfilling
certain responsibilities. The following are patient responsibilities:
- Patients are responsible for providing
information about past illnesses, hospitalizations, medications,
and other matters related to health status. To participate
effectively in decision making, patients are take responsible
for asking for additional information or explanation about
their health status or treatment when they do not fully
understand information and instructions.
- Patients are also responsible for ensuring
that the health care institution has a copy of their written
advance directive if they have one.
- Patients are responsible for telling
their doctors and other caregivers if they expect problems
in following prescribed treatment.
- Patients should be aware of the hospital's
duty to be reasonably efficient and fair in providing care
to other patients and the community. The hospital's rules
and regulations are intended to help the hospital meet
this responsibility. Patients and their families are responsible
for making reasonable accommodations to the needs of the
hospital, other patients, medical staff, and hospital employees.
- Patients are responsible for giving
necessary information for insurance claims and for working
with the hospital to make payment arrangements, when necessary.
- A person's health depends on much more
than health care services. Patients are responsible for
recognizing the impact of their lifestyle on their personal