Your Rights as a Patient
At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, we support your right to know about your health and illness, and your right to participate in decisions that affect your well-being. Our own statement of patients' rights, incorporating state and federal law, describes the medical center's commitment to protecting your rights.
1. You have the right to receive medical care that meets the highest standards of BIDMC. BIDMC does not discriminate on the basis of your race, color, national origin, citizenship, alienage, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, immigration status or any other status protected by applicable laws.
2. You have the right to receive visitors of your choosing that you (or
your support person, where appropriate) designate, including a spouse,
domestic partner (including same-sex domestic partner), or another
family member or a friend.
You also have the right to withdraw or deny consent to receive such
visitors. You have the right to visitation privileges regardless of race,
religion, national origin, any disability or handicap, gender, sexual
orientation, gender identity or expression, age, military service, or the
source of payment for your care. Depending on clinical situations, personal
safety risk, or security issues, BIDMC reserves the right to place
restrictions on visitation as outlined below and as necessary. BIDMC limits
visitation when it would interfere with the care of the patient and/or
other patients based on a health care provider’s best clinical judgment.
Limitations on the number of visitors, the age of visitors, and the times
at which visitors may be present are reasonable and necessary measures
dependent on the particular setting or circumstance. Examples of
circumstances that could provide a basis for restricting visitation
include, but are not limited to: where infection control is at issue; when
visitation may interfere with the care of the patient or of other patients;
when the hospital becomes aware of a court order restricting contact; if
visitors engage in disruptive, threatening, or violent behavior of any
kind; when the patient or patient’s roommate need rest or privacy; when the
patient is undergoing care interventions; if there is a risk of exposure to
unsafe conditions, such as radiation.
3. You have the right to prompt, life-saving treatment in an emergency
without discrimination based on economic status or source of payment,
and to treatment that is not delayed by discussion regarding the source
Except in an emergency, you may choose the facility, the physician, and the
type of health service for your care, providing those you choose are able
to care for you. You have the right to prompt and safe transfer to another
facility if you cannot be treated at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
4. You have the right to be treated respectfully by others, and to be
addressed by your proper name without undue familiarity.
Your individuality - including your cultural and personal values, beliefs
and preferences, and your educational background - will be respected. When
you have a question, you may expect to be listened to and receive an
appropriate and helpful response. Although removal of your clothing may be
necessary to properly perform many medical examinations and procedures, you
may refuse to remove your clothing. When there are clinical and safety
concerns about risks to you or to others, removal of clothing may be
required. You have the right to receive care in a safe setting and to be
free from restraint except in a situation when restraint is necessary to
ensure your safety and the safety of staff involved and others. You have a
right to feel safe in personal relationships, as this can affect your
health and well-being. If you feel unsafe or if you are being hurt in any
of your relationships, staff members at the medical center are available to
help you plan for and maintain your safety.
5. You have the right to privacy within the capacity of the medical
If you are being cared for in a setting where there are others present, you
can expect a sincere and reasonable attempt to keep all conversations
confidential within the capacity of the medical center. When you are
examined, you are entitled to privacy - to have the curtains drawn, to know
what role any observer may have in your care, and to have any observer
unrelated to your care leave if you so request.
6. You have the right to seek and receive all the information necessary
for you to understand your medical situation.
You have the right to know the name and specialty of the doctors and other
health care providers who are responsible for your care and to talk with
these providers. You are entitled to know fully about the planned course of
diagnosis and treatment (including an explanation of each day's procedures
and tests), and your likely future medical course and prognosis. This is
true regardless of your diagnosis. In addition, the law requires that you
receive specific information in certain circumstances. For example, if you
are receiving mammography services, you will receive specific information
about this procedure. If you are suffering from breast cancer, you have the
right to receive complete information on all alternative treatments that
are medically viable. If you are having breast implant surgery, your
surgeon will inform you of the risks associated with this procedure no
later than ten days in advance of surgery. You will be given a written
summary of this information. Prior to admission as a maternity patient, you
will receive information regarding labor and delivery care specific to
BIDMC, including the rate of cesarean section and the types of anesthesia
administered at the medical center. If you are a victim of rape and are of
childbearing age, you have the right to receive written information about
emergency contraception, and to be offered and provided emergency
contraception if you so request.
You are entitled to seek and receive adequate instruction in self-care,
prevention of disability, and maintenance of health. You have the right to
ask your doctor or nurse any question about your health that concerns you.
You have the right to have all reasonable requests responded to promptly
and adequately within the capacity of the medical center.
You have the right to know who will perform an operation or a test and to
receive a full explanation of the details in advance, in order for you to
exercise your right to give informed consent or elect to refuse. If you
agree to the diagnostic and therapeutic procedures recommended by your
doctor, you may be asked to sign a consent form. If you refuse, you may
expect to receive the best help that the medical center can still offer
under the circumstances.
You have the right to request and to receive additional medical
consultation on your medical condition if you desire. You have the right to
be fully informed of the nature and extent of the plan of treatment
developed for you by your doctor and nurse, and the right to define any
limits on that treatment when fully informed, should you desire to do so.
You have the right to be informed about the outcome of care you receive.
7. You have a right to know the identity and the role of individuals
involved in your care.
Because this is a major teaching hospital, there are many members of the
health care team participating in your care and treatment. You may request
that an individual not be assigned to your care and may expect that this
request will be honored whenever this is possible without jeopardizing
access to medical or psychiatric attention.
8. You have a right to a full explanation of any research study in
which you may be asked to participate.
You also have the right to refuse to participate in research. Your refusal
will not affect your access to care at BIDMC. BIDMC respects the rights of
all individuals who choose to participate (or not participate) in research
at BIDMC. For more information about BIDMC's human subjects' research
program and your rights as a research participant, you may contact the
human subjects protections office at 617-667-4524.
9. You have the right to leave the medical center even if your doctors
advise against it, unless you have certain infectious diseases that may
influence the health of others, or if you are incapable of maintaining
your own safety or the safety of others, as defined by law.
If you decide to leave before the doctors advise, the medical center will
not be responsible for any harm that this may cause you, and you will be
asked to sign a "Discharge Against Medical Advice" form.
10. You have the right to access your medical record.
As a general rule, we do not recommend that you review your medical record
in the midst of a hospital stay because, while you are an inpatient, your
medical record is incomplete; it serves as documentation by your physicians
and nurses of your current treatment. During your hospitalization, we urge
you to direct questions to your physicians and nurses, but if you still
wish to see your record, you have the right to do so. Patients who are no
longer in the hospital and outpatients wishing to obtain copies of their
medical record may make arrangements by calling the correspondence section
of the medical records department at 781-234-0850. For your protection, we
require signed authorization and positive identification to release medical
record information. If you have questions about the information you acquire
from your medical record, they should be directed to your physician.
Records will be maintained in accordance with applicable laws and
regulations, accreditation standards, and other requirements governing
record retention. Records will not be destroyed before the appropriate
retention period has expired.
11. You have the right to inquire and receive information about the
possibility of financial assistance.
As there are many different options for assistance, the BIDMC financial
assistance office will work with you to obtain the most suitable assistance
available to you. You may request an itemized bill for the services you
have received. You may also ask for an explanation of that bill. For
inquires related to financial assistance, please contact the financial
assistance office at 617-667-5661. Financial information provided to the
medical center will remain confidential.
12. You are entitled to know about any financial or business
relationships the medical center has with other institutions, to the
extent the relationship relates to your care or treatment.
13. You have the right not to be exposed to the smoking of others.
Because smoking is a health and safety hazard to smokers and to others,
BIDMC is a smoke-free hospital. Smoking is not permitted anywhere in the
medical center, including public areas, private and open offices, rest
rooms, patient rooms, and outside areas in the immediate vicinity of
medical center entrances and exits. Smoking materials are not for sale
anywhere on medical center property.
14. You have the right to take part in decisions relating to your
This includes participation in the development and implementation of your
plan of care. You have the right to make informed decisions regarding your
care, to receive information about your health status, and to request or
refuse treatment. Upon admission to the medical center, you have the right
to have a family member or personal representative and your own physician
notified promptly. In accordance with Massachusetts law, you have the right
to formally designate a substitute decision-maker who, in a situation in
which you cannot make your own health care decisions, will be legally
authorized to make these decisions for you. (For more information please
read our pamphlet on the Massachusetts Health Care Proxy and talk with your
physician, nurse, social worker, or pastoral services representative.)
15. You have the right to appropriate assessment and management of
Your doctor and nurse will assess your pain and involve you in decisions
about managing pain effectively.
16. You have the right as a patient who may have limited English
proficiency to have access, free of charge, to meaningful communication
via a qualified interpreter either in person or by phone, as deemed
appropriate. If you are a Deaf or hard of hearing patient, BIDMC will
provide a certified interpreter either from the BIDMC staff interpreter
service or the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of
17. You have the right to receive information about how you can get
assistance with concerns, problems, or complaints about the quality of
care or service you receive, and to initiate a formal grievance process
with the medical center or with state regulatory agencies.
Should you have concerns, problems, or complaints about the quality of care
or service that you are receiving, you are encouraged to speak to the
providers directly involved in your care.
If the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, or if you would like the
help of someone not immediately involved,
Patient Relations staff
is available to help resolve the problem.
Silverman Institute for Health Care Quality and Safety
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Ave.
Boston, MA 02215
If you find the above avenues unsatisfactory, you may choose to file a
formal grievance with the medical center (via the Patient Relations
office), or you may contact any of the following agencies:
18. You have the right to have your spiritual and cultural needs
addressed within the capacity of the medical center.
19. You have the right to obtain a copy of the rules and regulations of
the medical center that apply to your role as a patient.
Your Responsibilities as a Patient
To ensure the medical center's ability to provide you with the best care
possible, we ask that you accept the responsibility to:
1. Provide accurate and complete information regarding your identity,
medical history, hospitalizations, medications, dietary supplements (herbal
and other nutritional supplements), and current health concerns. Report any
changes in health to care providers.
2. Follow treatment plans recommended by physicians and other health care
providers working under the attending physician's direction. Let care
providers know immediately if you need clarification or do not understand
your plan of care or the health instructions you are given.
3. Participate and collaborate in your treatment and in planning for
4. Be part of the pain management team. If you are receiving pain
medications, ask your medical team about pain management options. Use pain
medication as prescribed and provide feedback if certain methods are not
working well for you.
5. Be considerate and respectful of other patients and medical center
personnel. Do what you can to help control noise, and ensure that your
visitors are considerate as well. Be respectful of medical center property.
6. Follow medical center rules and regulations, including those that
prohibit offensive, threatening, and/or abusive language or behavior, and
the use of tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs or substances. Help ensure
that your visitors are aware of and follow these rules.
7. Provide the medical center with a copy of any advance directive or
health care proxy designation you have prepared.
8. Provide accurate and complete financial information and work with the
medical center to ensure that financial obligations related to your care
are met. Notify the medical center promptly if there is a hardship so that
we may assist you as needed.