Patient Rights and Responsibilities

Here's your guide to the hospital's responsibilities to our patients and our patients' responsibilities to the hospital.

Hospital's responsibilities to patients

  1. Patients have the right to formulate an advance directive. Lehigh Valley Health Network will honor written advance directives except in those situations where doing so will violate professional standards or the law. An advance directive is not required to receive care at Lehigh Valley Health Network.
  2. Patients have the right to respectful care given by competent personnel, with recognition of the patient's personal dignity.
  3. Patients have the right, upon request, to be given the name of their attending physician, the names of all other physicians directly participating in their care, and the names and functions of other health care providers having direct contact with the patient. This includes patients' right to know of any professional relationship among individuals who are treating them, as well as that relationship to other health care or educational institutions involved in their care.
  4. Patients have the right to every consideration of their privacy concerning their own medical care program. Case discussion, consultation, examination and treatment are considered confidential and should be conducted discreetly. This includes the right: (1) to have a person of one's own sex present during certain parts of a physical examination, treatment or procedure performed by a health professional of the opposite sex, and the right not to remain disrobed any longer than is required for accomplishing the medical purpose for which the patient was asked to disrobe; (2) to wear appropriate personal clothing and religious or other symbolic items, as long as they do not interfere with diagnostic procedures or treatments; (3) to request a transfer to another room if another patient or visitor in the room is unreasonably disturbing the patient; (4) to be placed in protective privacy when considered necessary for personal safety.
  5. Patients have the right to have all records pertaining to their medical care treated as confidential except as otherwise provided by law or third-party contractual arrangements.
  6. Patients have the right to know what hospital rules and regulations apply to their conduct as a patient. Patients are entitled to information about the hospital's mechanism for the initiation, review and resolution of patient complaints. The patient or his or her legal representative has the right to file a grievance regarding his or her care with the service excellence coordinator. The service excellence coordinator can be contacted by phone at 610-402-8222 or in writing in care of Lehigh Valley Health Network, Cedar Crest, P.O. Box 689, Allentown, PA 18105-1556.
  7. Patients have the right to file a complaint with the state survey and certification agency if they have a concern about the safety or quality of care received in the hospital. You may write to:

    PA Department of Health
    Acute and Ambulatory Care Services
    Health and Welfare Building, Room 532, 
    625 Forster Street
    Harrisburg, PA 17120

    You may also call the department at 1-800-254-5164.

    Or you can contact the hospital's accrediting organization, The Joint Commission Office of Quality Monitoring, by visiting, where you can submit an online form or see the office's fax number and mailing address. 
  8. Patients are entitled to freedom from the fear of pain, and pain itself, within the limits of professional capabilities.
  9. When a patient is terminally ill, the family can expect assistance in preparing for the patient's death.
  10. Patients have the right to have emergency procedures implemented without delay.
  11. Patients have the right to quality care under professional standards that are continually maintained and reviewed.
  12. Patients have the right to full information in layman's terms concerning their diagnosis, treatment and prognosis, including information about possible complications and alternative treatments. When it is not medically advisable to give such information to patients, the information shall be given on their behalf to the patients' legal representative.
  13. Except for emergencies, the physician must obtain the required informed consent prior to the start of any designated procedure or treatment. To the degree possible, this should be based on a clear, concise explanation of the patient's condition and of all proposed technical procedures, including the possibilities of any risk for mortality or serious side effects, problems related to recuperation and probability of success. The patient has the right to know who is responsible for authorizing and performing the procedures or treatment.
  14. Patients or, in the event the patient is unable to give informed consent, his/her legal representative, have the right to be advised when a physician is considering the patient as part of a medical care research program or donor program, and the patient or legal representative must give informed consent prior to actual participation in such a program. Patients, or their legal representative, may, at any time, refuse to continue in any such program to which they have previously given informed consent.
  15. Patients have the right to refuse any drugs, treatment or procedure offered by the hospital to the extent permitted by law, and a physician shall inform the patient of medical consequences of the patient's refusal of any drugs, treatment or procedure. When refusal of treatment by the patient or his/her legally authorized representative prevents the provision of appropriate care in accordance with professional standards, the physician's relationship with the patient may be terminated upon reasonable notice.
  16. Patients have the right to assistance in obtaining consultation with another physician at the patient's request and own expense.
  17. Patients have the right to receive all medical and nursing care without discrimination upon race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, national origin, educational level, income, culture, language, marital status or ability to pay.
  18. Patients who do not speak English should have access, whenever possible, to an interpreter.
  19. Patients who have a disability have the right to request the assistance needed to maintain independence in their care.
  20. The hospital shall provide patients, or their legal representative, upon request, access to all information contained in the patient's medical records, unless access is specifically restricted by the attending physician for medical reasons. The patient, or his or her representative, has the right to access information contained in his/her clinical records within a reasonable time frame.
  21. Patients have the right to expect good management techniques to be implemented within the hospital. Patients have the right to expect reasonable safety insofar as the hospital practices and environment are concerned.
  22. When medically permissible, patients may be transferred to another facility only after they or their next of kin or other legal representative have received complete information and an explanation concerning the needs for and alternatives to such a transfer. The institution to which the patient is to be transferred must first have accepted the patient for transfer.
  23. Patients have the right to decide if they do, or do not, want visitors during their hospital stay. Patients have the right to determine who visits them, even if they are not legally related to them. Patients have the right to identify a support person for visitation rights if they become unable to make their wishes known. The hospitals may have to limit visitation during a patient's stay due to their medical condition or concern for other patients. Patients have the right to withdraw their consent for visitors at any time during their hospital stay.
  24. Patients have the right to examine and receive a detailed explanation of their bill, regardless of the source of payment for the patient's care. Patients have the right to timely notice prior to termination of their eligibility for reimbursement by any third-party pay or for the cost of their care.
  25. Patients have the right to full information and counseling about the availability of known financial resources for their health care.
  26. Patients have the right to expect that the health care facility will provide a mechanism whereby they are informed upon discharge of their continuing health care requirements following discharge and the means for meeting them.
  27. Patients cannot be denied the right of access to an individual or agency that is authorized to act on their behalf to assert or protect the rights set out in this section. Patients have the right to access people outside the hospital by means of visitors and by verbal and written communication.
  28. Patients have the right to be informed of their rights at the earliest possible moment in the course of their hospitalization. The patient or his/her legal representative must be informed of his/her rights in advance of furnishing or discontinuing patient care wherever possible.
  29. The patient has the right to be free from any form of restraint (physical restraint or drugs being used as a restraint) that is not medically necessary or is used as a means of coercion, discipline, convenience or retaliation by staff.
  30. The patient has the right to personal privacy, to receive care in a safe setting and to be free from all forms of abuse or harassment.

Patients' responsibilities to hospital

  1. The hospital expects that patients will provide a copy of their advance directive, if one has been executed, as soon as possible after admission.
  2. The hospital expects that patients or their legal representative will provide information about past illnesses, hospitalizations, medications and other matters relating to their health history in order to effectively treat their current illness. Patients have the responsibility to report unexpected changes in their condition to the responsible practitioner.
  3. The hospital expects patients to cooperate with all hospital personnel and ask questions if directions and/or procedures are not clearly understood.
  4. Patients are expected to be considerate of other patients and hospital personnel, and to assist in the control of noise and the number of visitors in their room at all times. Patients also are expected to be respectful of the property of other persons and the property of the hospital.
  5. In order to facilitate patient care and the efforts of hospital personnel, patients are expected to help the physicians, nurses and allied medical personnel in their efforts by following their instructions and medical orders. Patients are responsible for keeping appointments, and, when they are unable to do so for any reason, for notifying the responsible practitioner or the hospital. Patients are responsible for their actions if they refuse treatment or do not follow the practitioner's instructions.
  6. The legal representative of the patient is expected to be available to hospital personnel for review of the patient's treatment in the event the patient is unable to properly communicate with the physicians or nurses.
  7. It is expected that patients assume the financial responsibility of payment for all services rendered whether through third-party payers or being personally responsible for payments for any services that are not covered by insurance policies. Patients are responsible for assuring that financial obligations are fulfilled as promptly as possible.
  8. It is expected that patients will not take drugs that have not been prescribed by their attending physician and administered by hospital staff, and that they will not complicate or endanger the healing process by consuming alcoholic beverages or toxic substances during their hospital stay.

Pediatric rights and responsibilities

As a pediatric patient at Lehigh Valley Health Network, you have these rights and deserve:

  1. To have uninterrupted sleep, quiet times, play times, and the warmth and comfort of family and friends as much as possible.
  2. To have your family and support system with you whenever medically possible. To feel as safe and comfortable as possible. There will be a place for a member of your family to spend the night in the hospital with you or near you.
  3. To understand that what is normal and routine for your caregiver, can be abnormal and frightening for your family.
  4. To know the names of your doctors, nurses and all other people who help care for you and to know what they do and why they are doing it.
  5. To be called by your name and not a number or illness.
  6. Not to have people talk about you over your bed, in your room or outside your door unless you know what is happening.
  7. To have your pain addressed and evaluated on a regular basis.
  8. To have an interpreter for you and your family to talk to you in a way that you understand what is happening to you and why.
  9. To cry, complain, make noise or object to anything that hurts you.
  10. To wear your own clothing most of the time and keep your special things with you.
  11. To have a schedule for your tests and procedures that does not keep you hungry or thirsty for any longer than necessary.
  12. To make choices whenever possible.
  13. To tell your ideas and feelings about how you want to be cared for, how we can help you feel more comfortable, and how you want to take part in your care.
  14. To be told what’s happening to you and to have your questions answered honestly in words that you can understand.
  15. To have access to protective services.
  16. To have your basic needs met – to be clean, dry and comfortable and without restraints whenever possible.
  17. To have the doctors, nurses and other staff work together with you and your family to make your stay in the hospital as short and as comfortable as possible.

Pediatric rights and responsibilities for families

At Lehigh Valley Hospital you and your family have the right to:

Respect and personal dignity

  1. We will think of your child as a child first and always and not just as a child with a medical condition.
  2. We will treat you and your child with courtesy and respect. We will knock on your door before entering.
  3. We will introduce ourselves. We will explain our role in your child’s care and we will wear our IDs at all times.
  4. We want you to help us get to know your child better. We can learn from you what is best for your family, and we will take the time to listen.
  5. We will attempt to contact you before we move your child.
  6. What you tell us will be kept confidential and private.
  7. We will not talk about your child in the room or outside the door unless you know what is happening.
  8. We will talk and write respectfully about your child and family.
  9. We will make every attempt to have discharge plans completed in a timely fashion to facilitate the discharge of your child before 11 a.m.
  10. We will consider the psychosocial, spiritual and cultural variables that influence your unique perceptions of illness.

Care that supports you as a family

  1. We will welcome you and your family in the hospital because you are the most important people to your child.
  2. We will provide a place for at least one family member to spend the night near your child.
  3. You can choose to stay with your child during most medical treatments.

Family responsibilities

  1. To follow policies of the hospital and specific unit. Parents or other responsible adults should accompany minor children on any hospital visit and observe all hospital rules.
  2. You have important information about your child’s health. We need to know about symptoms, treatments, medicines and other illnesses.
  3. It is important for you to tell us what you want for your child, how you want to take part in your child’s care and if you don’t understand something about your child’s care.
  4. If you are not satisfied with your child’s care, please tell us.
  5. You and the other members of the health care team work together to plan your child’s care. You are responsible for doing the things you agreed to do in this plan of care. If you cannot follow the plan, please tell us.
  6. You should help us to make sure that your child’s hospital bill is paid as promptly as possible.
  7. Your family is expected to respect the rights of other children, families and hospital personnel. Please observe the following guidelines:
  • Playing of loud music and TV is not permitted.
  • Limit the number of phone calls and number of guests late at night if you are in a double room.
  • Please be considerate of other people in the room when using the TV (control volume and limit the hour to which it is in use).
  • If your other children are visiting, we ask that they be supervised at all times.
  • Inappropriate and disrespectful language is not permitted.
  • In the event that you need to leave the hospital, please be sure to leave your nurse a number where you can be reached.

Message from Medicare

Here's a guide from Medicare about your rights as a hospital patient.

Your rights as a hospital inpatient:

  • You have the right to receive Medicare-covered services, including medically necessary services during your stay or after you have been discharged, if ordered by your physician.
  • You have the right to be involved in decisions about your stay and who will pay for them.

Your Medicare discharge rights:

  • Upon admission, a case manager will meet with you to discuss your discharge rights.
  • You will sign and date the Important Message From Medicare form and be given the original document.
  • Hospital staff will work with you throughout your stay to arrange services you may need once you are discharged.
  • Once inpatient services are no longer necessary, you will be informed of your planned date of discharge.
  • Before discharge, this form will be re-reviewed with you if your stay is greater than three (3) days.
  • If you believe you are being discharged too early, you have the right to appeal your discharge.

Appeal process:

  • To appeal, you must contact the Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) before you are discharged. If the appeal is started before you are discharged, you will not be responsible to pay for services received while a decision is being made (except for copayments and deductibles).
  • Contact the QIO. Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or TTY 1-877-486-2048.
  • You will receive a notice detailing why the hospital thinks you are ready to be discharged.
  • You, or your representative, need to be available if the QIO requests to speak with you.
  • The QIO will review all information about your stay.
  • The QIO will make a decision within one day after they receive the requested information.

Other appeal rights:

  • If you miss the deadline for appeal, you can still ask the QIO to review your case.
  • If you choose to stay in the hospital while the review is being done, you may be charged for any services you receive after the planned date of discharge.