Patient and Family Rights

Patient and Family Rights and Responsibilities

Boston Children's Hospital (“Hospital”) is committed to respecting and protecting the rights of its patients and families. We strive to provide care that is sensitive to culture, race, religion, gender, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, source of payment and national origin. This bill of rights provides information about our commitment to you and your family.

Equal Visitation

Boston Children’s Hospital grants full and equal visitation rights to meet your family’s needs. The hospital welcomes all visitors regardless of their race, color, age, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, religion or any disability. If we need to restrict visits for health or safety reasons, we will tell you as soon as possible. We make reasonable accommodations — such as access to special services or making adjustments to our physical environment — for patients, families or visitors with disabilities whenever possible.

Your rights

Access to care

You have the right to:

  • Get safe and respectful care that is suited to your age and needs.
  • Be given care that is free from all kinds of abuse or neglect, and that supports respect, dignity, and comfort.
  • Be given treatment in an emergency, whether or not you can pay.
  • Transfer safely to another facility that agrees to treat you.
  • Be given care free of discrimination.
  • Be given care that supports special needs you may have. Please talk to a staff member if you need special help, like a wheelchair-accessible bathroom or an interpreter. We will do our best to meet your reasonable needs in a timely way.
  • Have your religious and spiritual needs supported.
  • Be given access to protective and advocacy services if you need them.

Information about care and care providers

You have the right to:

  • Choose your health care provider from available providers, except in an emergency.
  • To be fully informed about your or your child’s health status to make informed decisions about care.
  • Know the name and specialty of those providing care to you or your child.
  • Ask for information about the relationship of the hospital or health care providers to any other health care facility or educational institution and how it relates to your care.
  • Refuse to receive care, treatment, and/or services, consistent with our policies.
  • Refuse to be examined, observed, or treated by students without affecting your treatment from the care team.
  • Have us tell someone (like a family member or your doctor) that you have been admitted to the hospital.

Privacy and confidentiality

You have the right to:

  • Safety and reasonable privacy.
  • Keep your medical records and communications confidential, and receive guidelines on how we use or share health information.
  • Have access to your medical records or receive a copy within a reasonable amount of time.
  • Get a copy of the hospital’s privacy policies.
  • Choose not to be listed in our directory to keep your hospital stay private.
  • Refuse any requests for help with fundraising or marketing activities.


You have the right to:

  • Decide who may visit you or your child. You also may restrict visitors. Visiting hours are between 12:00 p.m. (noon) and 8:00 p.m. Parents and guardians may visit at any time.
  • Limitations may be required based on patient needs, your or your family member’s needs, or the needs of nearby patients in your unit/area.
  • The hospital may restrict or impose (put) limitations on visitation if you or a visitor interferes with the rights of others or is a safety risk to the patient or hospital.

Health information & billing

You have the right to ask for and get:

  • A bill or statement of charges and explanation of costs
  • Information about financial help and free health care opportunities.
  • To request a change or correction to your confidential health information if you believe the information is not right.

Decision-making and being part of the care team

You have the right to:

  • Be an active and informed member of the care team throughout your stay and as you plan to leave the hospital.
  • Be given information in a way that meets your needs.
  • Be given a clear explanation of the results of any treatment or procedure.
  • Ask for a copy of any hospital rules that patients and families must follow.
  • Get information about special services, like a Health Care Proxy, guardianship, advocacy services, and protective services
  • Choose a Health Care Proxy (someone to make health care decisions for you) as allowed by Massachusetts law, if you can’t make decisions for yourself.
  • Have your choices about your care (including organ donation and end-of-life decisions) honored as allowed by law and/or the hospital’s ability.
  • Be given resources that can help after discharge (when you go home).
  • Consult another specialist (seek a second opinion) at your own expense.
  • Appropriate transfer of care to another hospital.
  • Have information on all alternative treatments which are medically appropriate if you have any form of breast cancer.

Informed consent

You have the right to:

  • Make informed decisions about your or your child’s care. You may give or not give your permission for care and treatment in accordance with any legal requirements.
  • Get a clear explanation of the expected results of a treatment or procedure. This includes risks and/or side effects, benefits, other possible treatments, and what might happen if you refuse the treatment or procedure.


You have the right to:

  • Get information about any research or education projects that affect your or your child’s care or treatment.
  • Be given care with or without participation in research projects.
  • Refuse to serve as a research subject
  • Refuse any care or examination when the main purpose is educational or informational rather than therapeutic (for treatment).

Pain management

You have the right to:

  • Be given care that manages your pain.
  • Have your or your child’s pain regularly checked and addressed.


You have the right to:

  • Be given the least restrictive restraint for the shortest length of time that will protect you, visitors, and staff from harm. Boston Children’s is committed to reduce the use of restraints.

Emergency Contraception

Female rape victims (who can have children) have the right to:

  • Be given written information about emergency contraception.
  • Be provided emergency contraception (like the “morning-after pill”) if you ask for it.

Sharing your concerns

Boston Children’s is committed to providing the safest care possible. If you see something that doesn’t make sense, or if something worries you, please speak with any member of your care team. Never be afraid to raise a concern or ask questions.

We want to hear from you if you are not satisfied with your care. These are the ways in which you can share your concerns or file a complaint:

  • Talk to a Boston Children’s nursing or department manager
  • Contact a member of Boston Children’s Patient Relations staff
    • Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Call 617-355-7673
    • After 4:30 p.m. or on weekends and holidays: Contact the Nursing Administrator on Call (NAOC) through the page operator at 617-355-6369

Mailing address:
Patient Relations
300 Longwood Avenue
BCH 3238
Boston, Ma 02115

Formal grievance (complaint or concern)

You also have the right to file a formal grievance or complaint, verbally or in writing to Patient Relations. All grievances will be reviewed in a timely manner.

  • Submit your grievance to Patient Relations, either verbally or in writing.
  • We will let you know how long it will take us to review and respond.
  • We will provide a written response to your concern which will include:
  • Name of the hospital contact person
  • Steps that were taken to address the complaint
  • Outline of the results
  • Date actions were completed

Grievances about privacy and confidentiality

You can file a complaint about our health information practices by calling Boston Children’s:

  • HIPAA Privacy Officer at 617-355-5502

Other agencies to contact

You can also report a safety or quality of care concern with outside organizations.

These include:

Massachusetts Department of Public Health
If you are a patient, consumer or their representative, please send the Consumer/Resident/Patient Complaint Form, along with any necessary HIPAA forms (available at the site above) to:
Advocacy Office, Patient Protection Unit
Division of Health Care Facility Licensure and Certification

Complaint Intake Unit
99 Chauncy Street, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02111

You can contact this office by phone:
617-753-8150 or 800-462-5540 (24 hours a day)

Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH)
Please fill out a DMH Complaint Form ( and mail to:

Department of Mental Health
Central Office of Investigations
25 Staniford Street
Boston, MA 02114

For questions about this form, contact the DMH Information and Resource line at 1-800-221-0053.

The Joint Commission
Fax: 630-792-5636
Mail: Office of Quality and Patient Safety
The Joint Commission
One Renaissance Boulevard
Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois 60181

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

If you believe your civil rights have not been honored, you may contact:

The Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

Toll-Free Call Center: 1-800-368-1019
TTD Number: 1-800-537-7697

Your family’s responsibilities

You are a valued partner on the care team. While at Boston Children’s, we ask that you:

  • Share information about your or your child’s health. This includes medical history, symptoms, treatments, medicines taken, and any other information that could affect the treatment plan.
  • Share with us how you want to take part in your or your child’s care and ask us questions if you do not understand the care plan, any decisions, or your responsibilities.
  • Follow the care plan and instructions given to you by the health care team.
  • Tell us if you are not able to follow the care plan.
  • Let us know if you are not satisfied with your care or with any other experience at the hospital.
  • Respect the rights of other patients, families, and hospital staff. For example: Be considerate with noise levels when talking or using music/video devices. Do not talk about or repeat information about other patients or families.
  • Act and speak in a way that shows mutual consideration and respect for the care team, other patients and families or visitors. Actions and language that are intimidating, abusive, or disrespectful will not be tolerated and may affect your access to the hospital.
  • In general, be as quiet as possible to respect and support the care of all patients and families.
  • Smoke only in areas where it’s allowed. Boston Children’s is a smoke-free campus. If you smoke, you’ll need to leave the hospital grounds.
  • You are responsible for your belongings when in the hospital, please leave anything that you do not need at home.

Be prepared to meet any financial responsibilities that come up as part of your or your child’s care.

Download a copy of Patient and Family Rights