Patients Rights 

The United States has no federal patient bill of rights, but each state does. There is also a federal law that protects patients in need of emergency medical care (see EMTALA below).  

The Patient Protections Act was initiated in 2012 under the Obama Administration. It provides legal protections for health insurance coverage.  You can find more information here and in our Health Care Costs section. This is the same law that protects us from being rejected for health insurance if we have pre-existing medical conditions. It also contains other rights and protections.

Since state laws vary for healthcare patient rights, you can ask your hospital for a copy of their patients’ rights brochure, which would be tailored to individual state laws. Hospitals are required to provide a written copy of patient rights to you and post them in visible areas around the hospital.

Patient Rights provided by hospitals are not legally binding (unless it is indicated by state or federal law). They are general standards set by organizations that have regulatory oversight of hospitals. Hospitals take patients rights seriously.  Failing to abide by them can result in having their accreditation status jeopordized and/or financial penalties.


General Patient Rights Page
Sponsored by the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization. Their page on patients rights provides information for all patients about their rights in healthcare.

New Hampshire's Patient Bill of Rights (state law)

New Hampshire Home Care Patient Bill of Rights

Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA)
You may have heard the term 'EMTALA' (pronounced Em-Taa-La).  In 1986, Congress enacted this federal law to ensure that the general public has access to emergency medical services (hospital emergency rooms).  This is a requirement under the rules of The Center for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) and applies to all patients, regardless of whether they have insurance or not, who their insurance carrier is, or their ability to pay.

Your Rights in The Emergency Room
By Brendan Goodman, MA & Andy Miller, November 29, 2018, Web MD 

Hospital Patients' Rights Brochure (print & save)
From the American Hospital Association (AHA). Remember, state laws may have additional rights your hospital is obligated to abide by.

Medicare Patients Rights
From the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid (CMS)

Medicare Rights Center
An independent nonprofit that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.

The American Medical Association Statement on Patients Rights

Civil Rights

If you believe you have been discriminated against in a hospital or healthcare facility because of your race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, or religion in you may file a complaint with Office of Civil Rights, for yourself or for a loved one.

Listing of US Civil Rights Laws & Regulations
From the US Department of Health & Human Services

How to File a Civil Rights Complaint


A Guide to Disability Rights in America, February, 2020

Disability Rights Center of NH

Medicare Rights Center
An independent nonprofit that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.

Medical Records

Note: A new federal rule is going into effect on April 5, 2021, giving patients immediate access to their electronic medical record (EMR). Find out details here at Open Notes.

Note: Under NH Law, hospitals or doctors’ offices can charge for medical record copies. The law states that the charge for the copying of a patient's medical records shall not exceed $15 for the first 30 pages or $.50 per page, whichever is greater; provided that copies of filmed records such as radiograms, x-rays, and sonograms shall be copied at a reasonable cost.

pdf Print & Save!
Obtaining Your Medical Records in New Hampshire.
From the NH Board of Medicine 

 Print & Save! 
When & What Healthcare Providers Can Share With Your Family, Friends or Others Involved in Your Care

Open Notes
This site is worth visiting. They are the leading organization advocating for patients' access to their records. They also do research, education, and raise awareness for this important issue and patient right. Helpful information under their 'For Patients' section on how to read your notes and records, and frequently asked questions (FAQs) with answers.

HIPAA (Health Insurance Privacy & Accountbility Act)
What you should know about the federal law that protects your rights to medical record privacy and for obtaining a copy of your medical records.

HIPAA Learning Video and Other Resources

Mental Health 

Our state psychiatric hospital is called 'New Hampshire Hospital'.
It's in our state capital in Concord, NH

pdf NH Psychiatric Hospital Guide to Psychiatric Patient Rights 

NAMI: Undertanding What HIPAA Means for Mental Illness
What medical record information doctors can share with your loved ones or caregivers


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