Section 4. Readings
The Patient's Bill of Rights AHA
The Patient's Bill of Rights was first adopted by the American Hospital
Association in 1973 and revised in October 1992. Patient rights were
developed with the expectation that hospitals and health care institutions
would support these rights in the interest of delivering effective patient
care. The American Hospital Association encourages institutions to translate
and/or simplify the bill of rights to meet the needs of their specific
patient populations and to make patient rights and responsibilities
understandable to patients and their families. According to the American
Hospital Association, a patient's rights can be exercised on this or her
behalf by a designated surrogate or proxy decision-maker if the patient
lacks decision-making capacity, is legally incompetent, or is a minor.
Bill of Rights
- The patient has the right to considerate and respectful care.
- The patient has the right and is encouraged to obtain from physicians
and other direct caregivers relevant, current, and understandable
information about his or her diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.
- Except in emergencies when the patient lacks the ability to make
decisions and the need for treatment is urgent, the patient is entitled to
a chance to discuss and request information related to the specific
procedures and/or treatments available, the risks involved, the possible
length of recovery, and the medically reasonable alternatives to existing
treatments along with their accompanying risks and benefits.
- The patient has the right to know the identity of physicians, nurses,
and others involved in his or her 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 significance of treatment
choices insofar as they are known.
- The patient has the right to make decisions about the plan of care
before and during the course of treatment and to refuse a recommended
treatment or plan of care if it is permitted by law and hospital policy.
The patient also has the right to be informed of the medical consequences
of this action. In case of such refusal, the patient is still entitled to
appropriate care and services that the hospital provides or to be
transferred to another hospital. The hospital should notify patients of
any policy at the other hospital that might affect patient choice.
- 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 and
to expect that the hospital will honor that directive as permitted by law
and hospital policy.
- Health care institutions must advise the patient of his or her rights
under state law and hospital policy to make informed medical choices, must
ask if the patient has an advance directive, and must include that
information in patient records. The patient has the right to know about
any hospital policy that may keep it from carrying out a legally valid
- The patient has the right to privacy. Case discussion, consultation,
examination, and treatment should be conducted to protect each patient's
- The patient has the right to expect that all communications and
records pertaining to his/her care will be treated confidentially 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 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 his or her medical records 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 a
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 also must have the benefit of complete information and explanation
concerning the need for, risks, benefits, and alternatives to such a
- The patient has the right to ask and be told of the existence of any
business relationship among the hospital, educational institutions, other
health care providers, and/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 or to have those
studies fully explained before they consent. A patient who declines to
participate in research or experimentation is still entitled to the most
effective care that the hospital can otherwise provide.
- The patient has the right to expect reasonable continuity of care and
to be informed by physicians and other caregivers of available and
realistic patient care options when hospital care is no longer
- 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.
The collaborative nature of health care requires that patient and/or their
families and surrogates participate in their care. The effectiveness of care
and patient satisfaction with the course of treatment depends, in part, on
the patient's fulfilling certain responsibilities:
- Patients are responsible for providing information about past
illnesses, hospitalizations, medications, and other health-related
- Patients must take responsibility for requesting additional
information or clarification about their health status or treatment when
they do not fully understand the current information or instructions.
- Patients are responsible for making sure that the health care
institution has a copy of their written advance directive if they have
- Patients are responsible for informing their physicians and other
caregivers if they anticipate problems in following prescribed treatment.
- Patients also should be aware that the hospital has to be reasonably
efficient and equitable in providing care to other patients and the
community. The hospital's rules and regulations are designed to help the
hospital meet this obligation.
- Patients and their families are responsible for being considerate of
and making reasonable accommodations to the needs of the hospital, other
patients, medical staff, and hospital employees.
- Patients are responsible for providing necessary information for
insurance claims and for working with the hospital as needed to make
- A patient's health depends on much more than health care services.
Patients are responsible for recognizing the impact of their lifestyles on
their personal health.
American Hospital Association (800) 424-4301 (800) 242-2626 (for material
American Hospital Association. Chicago, 1992. Catalog no. 157759.