Your Rights as a Patient

Federal and state laws provide for specific patient rights. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, we recognize our responsibility to respect these rights as well as to inform you of them. The following summarizes both federal law and the Massachusetts Patients’ Bill of Rights.

  • You have the right to obtain the name and specialty of the doctor or other person responsible for your care.
  • You have a right to confidentiality of all records and communications concerning your medical history and treatment to the extent provided by law.
  • You have the right to participate in the development and implementation of your plan of care.
  • You have the right to have a family member or representative of your choice and your own physician notified of your admission to the hospital.
  • You have a right to a prompt response to all reasonable requests.
  • You have a right to request and receive an explanation as to the relationship, if any, of this hospital and your doctor to any other health care facility or educational institution, insofar as any such relationship relates to your care.
  • You have a right to request and receive information about financial assistance and free health care.
  • You have a right to obtain a copy of any rules or regulations of this hospital which may apply to your conduct as a patient.
  • You have a right upon request to inspect your medical records, request an amendment to, or receive an accounting of disclosures regarding personal health information, and for a reasonable fee, receive a copy of your record.
  • You have a right to receive a copy of your medical record free if you show that your request is to support a claim or appeal under any provisions of the Social Security Act in any federal or state financial needs-based benefit program.
  • You have a right to refuse to be observed, examined or treated by students or any other staff without jeopardizing your access to care.
  • You have a right to refuse to participate as a research subject.
  • You have a right to personal dignity, and to the extent reasonably possible, to privacy during medical treatment and other care.
  • You have the right to have your cultural, psychosocial, spiritual, and personal values, beliefs, and preferences respected.
  • You have the right to request pastoral and other spiritual services.
  • You have the right to pain management.
  • You have a right to prompt life-saving treatment without discrimination due to economic status or source of payment.
  • You have the right, if you are a female rape victim of childbearing age, to receive medically and factually written information prepared by the commissioner of public health about emergency contraception; to be promptly offered emergency contraception; and to be provided with emergency contraception upon request.
  • You have a right, if refused treatment for economic status or lack of a source of payment, to prompt and safe transfer to a facility that agrees to provide treatment.
  • You have a right to informed consent to the extent provided by law.
  • You have a right, if suffering from any form of breast cancer, to complete information on all alternative treatments that are medically viable.
  • You have a right, if you are a maternity patient, to receive information about the hospital’s rate of cesarean sections and related statistics.
  • You have a right to request and receive an itemized explanation of your medical bill.
  • You have the right to choose who may visit you during your hospital stay subject to certain clinical restrictions and limitations. You may also deny or withdraw such consent at any time. If you are unable to choose, a family member, friend or staff may help you make the decision.
  • You have the right to care regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, citizenship, alienage, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, veteran’s status, disability, status with regard to public assistance, membership or activity in a local commission, political affiliation or place of residence.
  • You have the right to file a grievance with the hospital if you have concerns regarding your care and treatment. In addition, you have the right to file a grievance with either the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Division of Health Care Quality (617-753-8000), 99 Chauncy Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, MA 02111; the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, 560 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02118; OR Patient safety concerns can be reported to The Joint Commission at www.jointcommission.org, using the “Report a Patient Safety Event” link in the “Action Center” on the home page of the website; By fax to 630-792-5636; By mail to Office of Quality and Patient Safety, The Joint Commission,  One Renaissance Boulevard, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181

If you would like a copy of the complete law, please call the Admitting Office at (617) 732-7450, or ext. 7450.

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