A Patient's Bill of Rights
The American Hospital Association presents A Patient's Bill of Rights
with the expectation that it will contribute to more effective patient care
and be supported by the hospital on behalf of the institution, its medical
staff, employees, and patients. The American Hospital Association encourages
health care institutions to tailor this bill of rights to their patient community
by translating and/or simplifying the language of this bill of rights as
may be necessary to ensure that patients and their families understand their
rights and responsibilities.
The patient has the right to considerate and respectful
The patient has the right to and is encouraged to
obtain from physicians and other direct caregivers relevant, current, and
understandable information concerning diagnosis, treatment, and
Except in emergencies when the patient lacks decision-making capacity and
the need for treatment is urgent, the patient is entitled to the opportunity
to discuss and request information related to the specific procedures and/or
treatments, the risks involved, the possible length of recuperation, and
the medically reasonable alternatives and their accompanying risks and
Patients have the right to know the identity of physicians, nurses, and others
involved in their care, as well as when those involved are students, residents,
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
The patient has the right to make decisions about
the plan of care prior to and during the course of treatment and to refuse
a recommended treatment or plan of care to the extent permitted by law and
hospital policy and to be informed of the medical consequences of this action.
In case of such refusal, the patient is entitled to other appropriate care
and services that the hospital provides or transfer 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 advise patients of their rights under state
law and hospital policy to make informed medical choices, as 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 patient's privacy.
The patient has the right to expect that all
communications and records pertaining to his/her care should 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 emphasize the
confidentiality of this information when it releases it to any other parties
entitled to review information in these records.
The patient has the right to review the records
pertaining to his/her medical care and to have the information explained
or interpreted as necessary, except when restricted by law.
The patient has the right to expect that, within
its capacity and policies, a hospital will make reasonable response to the
request of patient for appropriate and medically indicated care and
The hospital must provide evaluation, service, and/or referral as indicated
by the urgency of the case.
When medically appropriate and legally permissible, or when a patient has
so 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 the existence of business relationships among the hospital, educational
institutions, other health care providers, or payers that may influence the
patient's treatment and care.
The patient has the right to consent to or decline
to participate in proposed 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 participate
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 physicians and
other caregivers of available and realistic patient care options when hospital
care is no longer appropriate.
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 methods.
*These rights can be exercised on the patient's behalf by a designated surrogate
or proxy decision maker if the patient lacks decision-making capacity, is
legally incompetent, or is a minor.
A Patient's Bill of Rights was first adopted by the American Hospital
Association in 1973.
This revision was approved by the AHA Board of Trustees on October 21, 1992.
Excerpted from Mosby's Medical Encyclopedia
Copyright (c) 1994-5, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company Inc. All Rights Reserved
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Last updated 2005/03/14