HHS boosts patient rights for same-sex partners

Posted September, 9 2011 by arianne

Earlier this week, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new guidance on existing rules that protect a patient’s right to choose their own visitors during a hospital stay, including same-sex domestic partners.  This guidance also supports enforcement of a patient’s right to designate the person of their choice to make medical decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated.

 Importantly, hospitals are also required to explain to all patients their right to choose their visitors during their inpatient stay, regardless of who that person is. 

These rules and new guidance apply to any patient in any hospital which participate in Medicare and Medicaid, and critical access hospitals, regardless of if the patients are covered under Medicare or Medicaid. 

It may not sound like much, but hospitals that are found to be in violation of these rules can actually have their Medicare or Medicaid contracts terminated by HHS. 

To learn more, check out the HHS press release here.