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Patients' Bill of Rights (Minnesota)

Legislative intent

It is the intent of the Legislature and the purpose of this statement to promote the interests and well-being of the patients of health care facilities.

No health care facility may require a patient to waive these rights as a condition of admission to the facility. Any guardian or conservator of a patient or, in the absence of a guardian or conservator, an interested person, may seek enforcement of these rights on behalf of a patient. An interested person may also seek enforcement of these rights on behalf of a patient who has a guardian or conservator through administrative agencies or in probate court or county court having jurisdiction over guardianships and conservatorships. Pending the outcome of an enforcement proceeding the health care facility may, in good faith, comply with the instructions of a guardian or conservator. It is the intent of this section that every patient’s civil and religious liberties, including the right to independent personal decisions and knowledge of available choices, shall not be infringed and that the facility shall encourage and assist in the fullest possible exercise of these rights.


For the purposes of this statement, “patient” means a person who is admitted to an acute care inpatient facility for a continuous period longer than 24 hours, for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment bearing on the physical or mental health of that person. “Patient” also means a minor who is admitted to a residential program as defined in Section 7, Laws of Minnesota 1986, Chapter 326. For purposes of this statement, “patient” also means any person who is receiving mental health treatment on an outpatient basis or in a community support program or other community-based program.

Public policy declaration

It is declared to be the public policy of this state that the interests of each patient be protected by a declaration of a patient’s bill of rights, which shall include but not be limited to the rights specified in this statement.

1. Information about rights

Patients shall, at admission, be told that there are legal rights for their protection during their stay at the facility or throughout their course of treatment and maintenance in the community and that these are described in an accompanying written statement of the applicable rights and responsibilities set forth in this section. In the case of patients admitted to residential programs as defined in Section 7, the written statement shall also describe the right of a person 16 years old or older to request release as provided in Section 253B.04, Subdivision 2, and shall list the names and telephone numbers of individuals and organizations that provide advocacy and legal services for patients in residential programs. Reasonable accommodations shall be made for those with communication impairments, and those who speak a language other than English. Current facilities policies, inspection findings of state and local health authorities, and further explanation of the written statement of rights shall be available to patients, their guardians or their chosen representatives upon reasonable request to the administrator or other designated staff person, consistent with Chapter 13, the Data Practices Act, and Section 626.557, relating to vulnerable adults.

2. Courteous treatment

Patients have the right to be treated with courtesy and respect for their individuality by employees of or persons providing service in a health care facility.

3. Appropriate health care

Patients shall have the right to appropriate medical and personal care based on individual needs. This right is limited where the service is not reimbursable by public or private resources.

4. Physician’s identity

Patients shall have or be given, in writing, the name, business address, telephone number, and specialty, if any, of the physician responsible for coordination of their care. In cases where it is medically inadvisable, as documented by the attending physician in a patient’s care record, the information shall be given to the patient’s guardian or other person designated by the patient as his or her representative.

5. Relationship with other health services

Patients who receive services from an outside provider are entitled, upon request, to be told the identity of the provider. Information shall include the name of the outside provider, the address, and a description of the service which may be rendered. In cases where it is medically inadvisable, as documented by the attending physician in a patient’s care record, the information shall be given to the patient’s guardian or other person designated by the patient as his or her representative.

6. Information about treatment

Patients shall be given by their physicians complete and current information concerning their diagnosis, treatment, alternatives, risks and prognosis as required by the physician’s legal duty to disclose. This information shall be in terms and language the patients can reasonably be expected to understand. Patients may be accompanied by a family member or other chosen representative, or both. This information shall include the likely medical or major psychological results of the treatment and its alternatives. In cases where it is medically inadvisable, as documented by the attending physician in a patient’s medical record, the information shall be given to the patient’s guardian or other person designated by the patient as his or her representative. Individuals have the right to refuse this information.

Every patient suffering from any form of breast cancer shall be fully informed, prior to or at the time of admission and during her stay, of all alternative effective methods of treatment of which the treating physician is knowledgeable, including surgical, radiological, or chemotherapeutic treatments or combinations of treatments and the risks associated with each of those methods.

7. Participation in planning treatment

Notification of family members:

A. Patients shall have the right to participate in the planning of their health care. This right includes the opportunity to discuss treatment and alternatives with individual caregivers, the opportunity to request and participate in formal care conferences, and the right to include a family member or other chosen representative, or both. In the event that the patient cannot be present, a family member or other representative chosen by the patient may be included in such conferences. A chosen representative may include a doula of the patient’s choice.

B. If a patient who enters a facility is unconscious or comatose or is unable to communicate, the facility shall make reasonable efforts as required under Paragraph (c) to notify either a family member or a person designated in writing by the patient as the person to contact in an emergency that the patient has been admitted to the facility. The facility shall allow the family member to participate in treatment planning, unless the facility knows or has reason to believe the patient has an effective advance directive to the contrary or knows the patient has specified in writing that they do not want a family member included in treatment planning. After notifying a family member but prior to allowing a family member to participate in treatment planning, the facility must make reasonable efforts, consistent with reasonable medical practice, to determine if the patient has executed an advance directive relative to the patient’s health care decisions. For purposes of this paragraph, “reasonable efforts” include:

  • examining the personal effects of the patient.
  • examining the medical records of the patient in the possession of the facility.
  • inquiring of any emergency contact or family member contacted whether the patient has executed an advance directive and whether the patient has a physician to whom the patient normally goes for care.
  • inquiring of the physician to whom the patient normally goes for care, if known, whether the patient has executed an advance directive. If a facility notifies a family member or designated emergency contact or allows a family member to participate in treatment planning in accordance with this paragraph, the facility is not liable to the patient for damages on the grounds that the notification of the family member or emergency contact or the participation of the family member was improper or violated the patient’s privacy rights.

C. In making reasonable efforts to notify a family member or designated emergency contact, the facility shall attempt to identify family members or a designated emergency contact by examining the personal effects of the patient and the medical records of the patient in the possession of the facility. If the facility is unable to notify a family member or designated emergency contact within 24 hours after the admission, the facility shall notify the county social service agency or local law enforcement agency that the patient has been admitted and the facility has been unable to notify a family member or designated emergency contact. The county social service agency and local law enforcement agency shall assist the facility in identifying and notifying a family member or designated emergency contact. A county social service agency or local law enforcement agency that assists a facility is not liable to the patient for damages on the grounds that the notification of the family member or emergency contact or the participation of the family member was improper or violated the patient’s privacy rights.

8. Continuity of care

Patients shall have the right to be cared for with reasonable regularity and continuity of staff assignment as far as facility policy allows.

9. Right to refuse care

Competent patients shall have the right to refuse treatment based on the information required in Right No. 6. In cases where a patient is incapable of understanding the circumstances but has not been adjudicated incompetent, or when legal requirements limit the right to refuse treatment, the conditions and circumstances shall be fully documented by the attending physician in the patient’s medical record.

10. Experimental research

Written, informed consent must be obtained prior to patient’s participation in experimental research. Patients have the right to refuse participation. Both consent and refusal shall be documented in the individual care record.

11. Freedom from maltreatment

Patients shall be free from maltreatment as defined in the Vulnerable Adults Protection Act. “Maltreatment” means conduct described in Section 626.5572, Subdivision 15, or the intentional and non-therapeutic infliction of physical pain or injury, or any persistent course of conduct intended to produce mental or emotional distress. Every patient shall also be free from non-therapeutic chemical and physical restraints, except in fully documented emergencies, or as authorized in writing after examination by a patients’ physician for a specified and limited period of time, and only when necessary to protect the patient from self-injury or injury to others.

12. Treatment privacy

Patients shall have the right to respectfulness and privacy as it relates to their medical and personal care program. Case discussion, consultation, examination, and treatment are confidential and shall be conducted discreetly. Privacy shall be respected during toileting, bathing, and other activities of personal hygiene, except as needed for patient safety or assistance.

13. Confidentiality of records

Patients shall be assured confidential treatment of their personal and medical records, and may approve or refuse their release to any individual outside the facility. Copies of records and written information from the records shall be made available in accordance with this subdivision and Section 144.335. This right does not apply to complaint investigations and inspections by the department of health, where required by third party payment contracts, or where otherwise provided by law.

14. Disclosure of services available

Patients shall be informed, prior to or at the time of admission and during their stay, of services which are included in the facility’s basic per diem or daily room rate and that other services are available at additional charges. Facilities shall make every effort to assist patients in obtaining information regarding whether the Medicare or Medical Assistance program will pay for any or all of the aforementioned services.

15. Responsive service

Patients shall have the right to a prompt and reasonable response to their questions and requests.

16. Personal privacy

Patients shall have the right to every consideration of their privacy, individuality, and cultural identity as related to their social, religious, and psychological well-being.

17. Grievances

Patients shall be encouraged and assisted, throughout their stay in a facility or their course of treatment, to understand and exercise their rights as patients and citizens. Patients may voice grievances and recommend changes in policies and services to facility staff and others of their choice, free from restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal, including threat of discharge. Notice of the grievance procedure of the facility or program, as well as addresses and telephone numbers for the Office of Health Facility Complaints and the area nursing home ombudsman pursuant to the Older Americans Act, Section 307 (a) (12) shall be posted in a conspicuous place. Every acute care in-patient facility, every residential program as defined in Section 7, and every facility employing more than two people that provides outpatient mental health services shall have a written internal grievance procedure that, at a minimum, sets forth the process to be followed; specifies time limits, including time limits for facility response; provides for the patient to have the assistance of an advocate; requires a written response to written grievances; and provides for a timely decision by an impartial decision-maker if the grievance is not otherwise resolved. Compliance by hospitals, residential programs as defined in Section 7 which are hospital-based primary treatment programs, and outpatient surgery centers with Section 144.691 and compliance by health maintenance organizations with Section 62D.11 is deemed to be in compliance with the requirement for a written internal grievance procedure.

18. Communication privacy

Patients may associate and communicate privately with persons of their choice and enter and, except as provided by the Minnesota Commitment Act, leave the facility as they choose. Patients shall have access, at their expense, to writing instruments, stationery, and postage. Personal mail shall be sen without interference and received unopened unless medically or programmatically contraindicated and documented by the physician in the medical record. There shall be access to a telephone where patients can make and receive calls as well as speak privately. Facilities which are unable to provide a private area shall make reasonable arrangements to accommodate the privacy of patients’ calls. This right is limited where medically inadvisable, as documented by the attending physician in a patient’s care record.

19. Personal property

Patients may retain and use their personal clothing and possessions as space permits, unless to do so would infringe upon rights of other patients, and unless medically or programmatically contraindicated for documented medical, safety, or programmatic reasons. The facility may, but is not required to, provide compensation for or replacement of lost or stolen items.

20. Services for the facility

Patients shall not perform labor or services for the facility unless those activities are included for therapeutic purposes and appropriately goal-related in their individual medical record.

21. Protection & advocacy services

Patients shall have the right of reasonable access at reasonable times to any available rights protection services and advocacy services so that the patient may receive assistance in understanding, exercising, and protecting the rights described in this section and in other law. This right shall include the opportunity for private communication between the patient and a representative of the rights protection service or advocacy service.

22. Right to communication disclosure & right to associate

Upon admission to a facility, where federal law prohibits unauthorized disclosure of patient identifying information to callers and visitors, the patient, or the legal guardian or conservator of the patient, shall be given the opportunity to authorize disclosure of the patient’s presence in the facility to callers and visitors who may seek to communicate with the patient. To the extent possible, the legal guardian or conservator of the patient shall consider the opinions of the patient regarding the disclosure of the patient’s presence in the facility. The patient has the right to visitation by an individual the patient has appointed as the patient’s health care agent under chapter 145C and the right to visitation and health care decision making by an individual designated by the patient.

Upon admission to a facility, the patient or the legal guardian or conservator of the patient, must be given the opportunity to designate a person who is not related who will have the status of the patient’s next of kin with respect to visitation and making a health care decision. A designation must be included in the patient’s health record. With respect to making a health care decision, a health care directive or appointment of a health care agent prevails over a designation. The unrelated person may also be identified as such by the patient or by the patient’s family.

To our patients: Your satisfaction is important to us. The Patient Relations Department at Regions Hospital is here to respond to any concerns, complaints, compliments or suggestions regarding your care:

Patient Relations Regions Hospital
640 Jackson Street
St. Paul, MN 55101

Inquiries or complaints regarding medical treatment or the Patients’ Bill of Rights may be directed to:

Minnesota Board of Medical Practice
2829 University Ave. S.E., Suite 500
Minneapolis, MN 55414-3246

Office of Health Facility Complaints
85 E. Seventh Place, Suite 220
P.O. Box 64970
St. Paul, MN 55164-0970

Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care
P.O. Box 64971
St. Paul, MN 55164-0971

Office of Quality Monitoring The Joint Commission 
One Renaissance Boulevard
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181

Laboratory Quality/Safety Concerns
College of Accredited Pathologists

Text provided by the Minnesota Hospital Association.