Hospital Visitation Rules: Hospitals Must Honor Patient Requests
(Editor's note: This guest blog was written by Michael LaMagna.)
When you are admitted to a hospital there are new standards that hospitals must abide by regarding your visitation rights. In the past, hospitals would generally limit visitors to immediate family members, which potentially excluded and discouraged friends and domestic partners from visiting. In addition, the hospital would also limit their discussions of surrogate decision making to immediate family members as well. However, in a little-noticed change in policy, President Obama mandated that hospitals notify patients of their right to decide who visits. This now has become a condition of participation in Medicare and Medicaid programs and part of a hospital's reaccreditation by the Joint Commission.
- A hospital is now required to notify and explain to all patients their right to choose who may visit them regardless whether the visitor is a family member, a spouse, a domestic partner or another type of visitor. These changes also protect the rights of hospital patients to choose a representative to act on their behalf. Hospitals must give deference to a patient's wishes concerning representatives;
- Advise patients of their right to withdraw or deny consent at any time;
- Respect the rights of a same-sex partner as patient representative to make decisions on behalf of a partner with respect to visitation if the patient is incapacitated; and
- Inform patient representatives of their rights to serve as the support person for an incapacitated same-sex partner.
If you find yourself in a hospital and they do not abide by your wishes regarding visitation or whom you appoint as a decision maker and you feel that your rights have been violated, you can report the violation to that hospitals quality assurance committee, your local department of health or to JCAHO directly.
This article is provided for informational purposes only. Nothing in this article shall be construed as legal advice or should be relied upon as such. Michael LaMagna is a partner at Timins & LaMagna, LLP, practicing Health Care Regulatory, Elder /disability/veteran's law, trusts and estates, Social Security and general legal practice in both New York and Connecticut. Michael was just appointed to the ACO Task Force of the American Health Lawyers Association. Email him at Mlamagna@nyandctlaw.com, call him at 914-819-0663 or visit Attorney LaMagna's website at www.nyandctlaw.com for more information.