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Patient Rights

Washington Hospital upholds the following patient rights regardless of age, source of payment, gender, or cultural, economic, educational or religious background. All patient rights also apply to the person who may have legal responsibility to make decisions regarding medical care on your behalf. This includes the parents/guardians of minor patients. All patients receive a copy of their patient rights upon admission.

You have the right to:

  • Considerate and respectful care, and to be made comfortable. You have the right to respect for your personal values and beliefs.
  • Have a family member (or other representative of your choosing) and your own physician notified promptly of your admission to the hospital.
  • Know the name of the physician who has primary responsibility for coordinating your care and the names of the professional relationships of other physicians and non-physicians who will see you.
  • Receive information about your health status, course of treatment and prospects for recovery in terms you can understand. You have the right to participate in the development and implementation of your plan of care. You have the right to participate in ethical questions that arise in the course of your care, including issues of conflict resolution, withholding resuscitative services, and foregoing or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment.
  • Make decisions regarding medical care, and receive as much information about any proposed treatment or procedure as you may need in order to give informed consent or to refuse course of treatment. Except in emergencies, this information shall include a description of the procedure or treatment, the medically significant risks involved, alternate courses of treatment or non-treatment and the risks involved in each, and the name of the person who will carry out the procedure or treatment.
  • Request or refuse treatment, to the extent permitted by law. However, you do not have the right to demand inappropriate or medically unnecessary treatment or services. You have the right to leave the hospital even against the advice of your physicians, to the extent permitted by law.
  • Be advised if the hospital/personal physician proposes to engage in or perform human experimentation affecting your care or treatment. You have the right to refuse to participate in such research projects.
  • Reasonable responses to any reasonable requests made for service.
  • Request or reject the use of any or all modalities to relieve pain, including opiate medication, if you suffer from severe chronic intractable pain. The doctor may refuse to prescribe opiate medication, but if so, must inform you that there are physicians who specialize in the treatment of severe chronic intractable pain and methods that include the use of opiates.
  • Formulate advance directives. This includes designating a decision maker if you become incapable of understanding a proposed treatment or become unable to communicate your wishes regarding care. Hospital staff and practitioners who provide care in the hospital shall comply with these directives. All patient rights apply to the person who has legal responsibility to make decisions regarding medical care on your behalf.
  • Have personal privacy respected. Case discussion, consultation, examination and treatment are confidential and should be conducted discreetly. You have the right to be told the reason for the presence of any individual. You have the right to have visitors leave prior to an examination and when treatment issues are being discussed. Privacy curtains will be used in semi-private rooms.
  • Confidential treatment of all communications and records pertaining to your care and stay in the hospital. Basic information may be released to the public, unless specifically prohibited in writing by you. Written permission shall be obtained before medical records are made available to anyone not directly concerned with your care, except as otherwise may be required or permitted by law.
  • Access information contained in your records within a reasonable time frame, except in certain circumstances specified by law.
  • Receive care in a safe setting, free from verbal or physical abuse or harassment. You have the right to access protective services including notifying government agencies of neglect or abuse.
  • Be free from restraints and seclusion of any form used as a mean of coercion, discipline, convenience or retaliation by staff.
  • Reasonable continuity of care and to know in advance of the time and location of appointments as well as the identity of the persons providing the care.
  • Be informed by the physician, or a delegate of the physician, of the continuing health care requirements following discharge from the hospital.
  • Know which hospital rules and policies apply to your conduct while a patient.
  • Designate visitors of your choosing, if you have a decision-making capacity, whether or not the visitor is related by blood or marriage, unless:
    • No visitors are allowed.
    • The facility reasonably determines that the presence of a particular visitor would endanger the health or safety of a patient, or would significantly disrupt the operations of the facility.
    • You have told the health facility staff that you no longer want a particular person to visit. However, a health facility may establish reasonable restrictions upon visitation, including restrictions upon the hours of visitation and number of visitors.
  • Have your wishes considered, if you lack decision-making capacity, for the purposes of determining who may visit. The method of that consideration will be disclosed in the hospital policy on visitation. At a minimum, the hospital shall include any persons living in your household.
  • Examine and receive an explanation of the hospital's bill regardless of the source of payment.
  • Exercise these rights without regard to sex, economic status, educational background, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation or marital status, or the source of payment for care.
  • File a grievance and/or file a complaint with the state Department of Health Services and/or the hospital and be informed of action taken.

Patient Responsibilities

In addition to your patient rights, you and/or a legally responsible guardian or conservator have the following responsibilities:

  • To provide complete and accurate information regarding medical history
  • To consider and use information provided by physicians and other health care providers in order to make healthcare decisions in the patient's best interest
  • To provide written consent to, or refusal of, treatment and/or procedures as requested by physicians and/or hospital personnel
  • To be considerate of others in the hospital, including patients, visitors and hospital employees
  • To meet financial responsibilities, including provision of appropriate insurance and billing information

Advance Directives

All patients receive information regarding advance directives upon admission. In order to be in compliance with the Federal Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) passed by Congress in 1990, Washington Hospital now asks, at the time of registration, all patients over the age of 18 if an advance directive has been drafted. Washington Hospital has formal policies to ensure that your wishes about treatment will be followed.

If you present an advance directive to us when you register, this information will be maintained in your medical records. If you have not completed an advance directive and want information, we will provide it to you. You are not required to have an advance directive to receive medical care. Resources are available to answer questions you might have.

A brochure which explains your right to make health care decisions and how you can plan what should be done when you cannot speak for yourself is available in the Admitting Department.

Patient Representative

The patient representative serves as a liaison between patients, hospital staff and physicians by intervening to mediate conflict, improve communication and meet non-clinical needs. You can contact the patient representative directly by calling 510.818.7328.


Any patient, family member, physician, nurse or hospital employee may request a consultation with the Bioethics Committee. The purpose of the committee is to help patients and their families, as well as physicians and other health care providers, discuss and resolve questions, problems and conflicts that involve personal values in the process of receiving and providing health care. To request a consultation or for more information, please ask your nurse.

Gann Act

The Paul Gann Blood Safety Act requires that your physician provide you with information concerning blood transfusions when there is the possibility that a blood transfusion may be necessary as a result of a medical or surgical procedure.

Learn about how Washington Hospital Healthcare System protects your privacy in our Notice of Privacy Practices.