Patient Bill of Rights for Hospitalized Individuals and Their Families

Posted on December 9, 2012

The Right to Know: Whom the attending physician is, how to contact your doctor and the right to be kept well informed.

The attending physician’s responsibility is to keep the patient and family informed about the patient’s progress, illness treatment and management, coordinate the hospital care and answer questions in a clear and understandable manner. Make sure you know who the doctor is that is in charge of your care while hospitalized.

The Right to Know: The nurse and staff who are assigned to provide patient care.

Hospital caregivers have a responsibility to identify themselves, describe their role in patient care and to provide their contact information. If hospital staff members do not offer this information, ask for it.

The Right to Know: How to contact the unit manager and hospital patient care advocate if there is a problem or complaint that cannot be resolved by the direct care providers.

The hospital has a responsibility to make clear the chain of command and the reporting mechanism by which patients and families can resolve care issues in an effective and efficient manner.  Request this information on hospital admission.

The Right to Receive: “Patient-Centered Care” which is medical care that is respectful of your needs, preferences and values and you have a right to participate in clinical decisions made about your care.

The physician and hospital providers have a responsibility to care for you in a compassionate and respectful manner.  They also have a responsibility to be certain that you, your designated family members and/or significant others, participate in clinical care decisions. You have the right to request a family meeting with the medical team to review and discuss your care.  It is important that you tell your physician whom you wish to be informed about your clinical condition and provide a copy of your completed advance directives and name of your designated health care power of attorney who is familiar with your care choices and values and can speak on your behalf in the event of an emergency.

The Right to Receive: Safe and competent clinical care from all hospital care providers. 

The physician and hospital staff have a responsibility to care for you safely and skillfully. There are several ways that you can advocate for safety in your care. Provide the hospital staff with a summary of your medical history, current medical conditions and a list of your medications. Monitor the quality of your care and ask questions if you have any concerns. Make sure that your hospital band is checked before medications and treatments are administered.  Check that hospital staff washes their hands before providing care. Report any new symptoms or worsening symptoms immediately to the nursing staff and medical team. If you are too ill to monitor your care closely, it is important, whenever possible, that family members and/or significant others visit you frequently to provide support and to help monitor your care.

The Right to a Well-planned and Safe Hospital Discharge:  You have the right to be an involved and informed participant in the discharge planning process.

The physician and hospital staff have a responsibility to ensure that your transition from hospital to home (or to another care facility) is safe, well planned and well coordinated.  The medical team should also ensure that you and your family members/significant others participate fully in the discharge planning process. Before being discharged from the hospital, be certain that you understand the type of care that will be needed at home and that all necessary home care services are in place. Know when to return to see your physician, understand the signs/symptoms you should look for which may indicate that you are experiencing complications and ask your physician about any activity restrictions. Understand how best to contact your physician should problems arise. Obtain a copy of your discharge summary and list of medications. Review any changes in current medications from pre-hospitalization medications with your medical team before hospital discharge.  For more information, see the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s tips to prevent medical errors.