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.
1. The patient has the right to considerate and respectful care.
2. 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 prognosis.
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 benefits.
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 known..
3. 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.
4. 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
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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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 services.
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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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
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