Medical Care

Patient Rights and Representatives

In 1973, the American Hospital Association introduced a document called “Patient’s Bill of Rights.” This document spelled out what patients in hospitals could expect in regarding to:

  • quality of care
  • information sharing
  • consent
  • confidentiality
  • access to records
  • conflict of interest
  • participation in research studies
  • continuity of care and discharge planning
  • hospital policies and practices

In 2003, the American Hospital Association replaced this document with Patient Care Partnerships: Understanding Expectations, Rights, and Responsibilities.

This document covers six major components of hospital care:

  • quality
  • clean and safe environment
  • involvement in one’s own care
  • privacy
  • help when leaving the hospital
  • help with billing claims.

Many hospitals and other types of health care facilities give patients a written statement about standards for care. View a sample from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

If you have concerns about the care your child is receiving during a hospitalization or feel that your concerns are not being heard, you have the option of asking for help from the hospital’s “patient representative.” Call the hospital’s main number and ask to speak to a patient representative.

In addition, you have the right to report your concerns to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which licenses hospitals.
800-254-5164, Form for submitting a complaint online

Most hospitals are accredited by the Joint Commission (formerly called the Joint Commission Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, or JCAHO).  If you believe your concerns have not been addressed by the hospital, you have the right to contact the Joint Commission’s Office of Quality Monitoring

For information about hiring a patient advocate, see Finding an Advocate in the Family Support section of this Guide.