Patient's Bill of Rights – The Vermont Statutes
Title 18: Health
Chapter 42: BILL OF RIGHTS FOR HOSPITAL PATIENTS
(a) The general assembly hereby adopts the "Bill of Rights
for Hospital Patients" as follows:
(1) The patient has the right to considerate and respectful care
at all times and under all circumstances with recognition of his
or her personal dignity.
(2) The patient shall have an attending physician who is responsible
for coordinating a patient's care.
(3) The patient has the right to obtain, from the physician coordinating
his or her care, complete and current information concerning diagnosis,
treatment, and any known prognosis in terms the patient can reasonably
be expected to understand. If the patient consents or if the patient
is incompetent or unable to understand, immediate family members,
a reciprocal beneficiary or a guardian may also obtain this information.
When it is not medically advisable to give such information to
the patient, the information shall be made available to immediate
family members, a reciprocal beneficiary or a guardian. The patient
has the right to know by name the attending physician primarily
responsible for coordinating his or her care.
(4) Except in emergencies, the patient has the right to receive
from the patient's physician information necessary to give informed
consent prior to the start of any procedure or treatment, or both.
Such information for informed consent should include but not necessarily
be limited to the specific procedure or treatment, or both, the
medically significant risks involved, and the probable duration
of incapacitation. Where medically significant alternatives for
care or treatment exist, or when the patient requests information
concerning medical alternatives, the patient has the right to such
information. The patient also has the right to know the name of
the person responsible for the procedures or treatment, or both.
(5) The patient has the right to refuse treatment to the extent
permitted by law. In the event the patient refuses treatment, the
patient shall be informed of the medical consequences of that action
and the hospital shall be relieved of any further responsibility
for that refusal.
(6) The patient has the right to every consideration of privacy
concerning the patient's own medical care program. Case discussion,
consultation, examination, and treatment are confidential and shall
be conducted discreetly. Those not directly involved in the patient's
care must have the permission of the patient to be present. This
right includes the right, upon request, to have a person of one's
own sex present during certain parts of a physical examination,
treatment or procedure performed by a health care 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. The patient has the right to
wear appropriate personal clothing and religious or other symbolic
items so long as they do not interfere with diagnostic procedures
(7) The patient has the right to expect that all communications
and records pertaining to his or her care shall be treated as confidential.
Only medical personnel, or individuals under the supervision of
medical personnel, directly treating the patient, or those persons
monitoring the quality of that treatment, or researching the effectiveness
of that treatment, shall have access to the patient's medical records.
Others may have access to those records only with the patient's
(8) The patient has the right to expect that within its capacity
a hospital shall respond reasonably to the request of a patient
for services. The right shall include if physically possible a
transfer to another room or place if another person in that room
or place is disturbing the patient by smoking or other unreasonable
actions. When medically permissible a patient may be transferred
to another facility only after receiving complete information and
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.
(9) The patient has the right to know the identity and professional
status of individuals providing service to him or her, and to know
which physician or other practitioner is primarily responsible
for his or her care. This includes the patient's right to know
of the existence of any professional relationship among individuals
who are treating him or her, as well as the relationship to any
other health care or educational institutions involved in his or
(10) The patient has the right to be advised if the hospital proposes
to engage in or perform human experimentation affecting the patient's
care or treatment. Participation by patients in clinical training
programs or in the gathering of data for research purposes shall
be voluntary. The patient has the right to refuse to participate
in such research projects.
(11) The patient has the right to expect reasonable continuity
of care. The patient has the right to be informed by the attending
physician of any continuing health care requirements following
(12) The patient has the right to receive an itemized, detailed
and understandable explanation of charges regardless of the source
(13) The patient has the right to know what hospital rules and
regulations apply to his or her conduct as a patient.
(14) Whenever possible, guardians or parents have the right to
stay with their children 24 hours per day. Whenever possible, guardians,
reciprocal beneficiaries or immediate family members have the right
to stay with terminally ill patients 24 hours a day.
(15) A patient who does not speak or understand the predominant
language of the community has a right to an interpreter if the
language barrier presents a continuing problem to patient understanding
of the care and treatment being provided. A patient who is hearing
impaired has a right to an interpreter if the impairment presents
a continuing problem to patient understanding of the care and treatments
(b) Failure to comply with any provision of this section may constitute
a basis for disciplinary action against a physician under chapter
23 of Title 26. A complaint may be filed with the board of medical
(c) A summary of the hospital's obligations under this
section, written in clear language and in easily readable print,
shall be distributed to patients upon admission and posted conspicuously
at each nurse's station. Such notice shall also indicate that as
an alternative or in addition to the hospital's complaint procedures,
the patient may directly contact the licensing agency or the board
of medical practice. The address and phone number of the licensing
agency and board of medical practice shall be included in the notice.
(Added 1985, No. 163 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1989, No. 219 (Adj. Sess.), § 4;
1999, No. 91 (Adj. Sess.), § 35.)