New Report – Sick, Scared & Separated from Loved Ones II: Progress and Problems in Hospitals Disclosing the Patient’s Right to Choose Who Can Visit

The patient — not the hospital — has the right to decide who can visit at bedside when visitation is restricted for clinical reasons, such as in the intensive care unit. That visitor might be a family member or “significant other,” or it might be a trusted friend or adviser.  The patient decides.  This is the law at both the New York State and federal level.  Yet many hospitals still misinform the public on their websites, either claiming directly or implying that visitation in certain special care units is limited to “family” or “immediate family only,” without a statement that the patient decides who “family” is – and it might not be a blood relative.  This new report — issued by our organization and the New York Public Interest Research Group, in consultation with Lambda Legal — finds that nearly one out of five large (200 or more staffed beds) hospitals — 17% (17 out of 99) — still have outdated language on their websites.  This is an improvement over the situation we found in 2012, when 30% of the hospital websites had such problems, but more progress should be made.  On the positive front, more than one-third of these hospital websites  have clear, informative language about the patient’s right to choose visitors — a number that has more than tripled since 2012.  In response to the issuance of this report, several hospitals have already improved their websites to comport with the federal and state regulations. We hope that more will follow.  Read our full report and find your hospital in one of the tables in our appendices.

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