Patient Rights and Privacy

As a patient you have the right to courteous, respectful, and confidential treatment.

This page contains the following sections:

Notice of privacy practices

This notice describes how members of the Dartmouth Health affiliated covered entity (ACE), including Dartmouth Health Clinic, Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital, Cheshire Medical Center, Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, New London Hospital, Hanover Psychiatry, and Visiting Nurse and Hospice for VT/NH (referred to herein as the “Dartmouth Health ACE”) may use and share medical information about you and how you can get access to this information.

View our Notice of Privacy Practices in English or en Español:

Your rights as a patient at Dartmouth Health

We strive to preserve your rights as an individual. We also ask that you and your visitors be considerate of the rights of others.

You have the Right to:

Be treated with respect and dignity. This includes being called by the name you choose, and to feel safe while in the hospital.

  • Your cultural background, spiritual and personal values, beliefs, and preferences should be respected.
  • You and the visitors that you choose will not be discriminated against based on age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, language, physical or mental disability, socioeconomic status, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.

Have your own physician and the person of your choice notified of your admission to the hospital

  • The person of your choice can be with you for emotional support during your hospital stay, as long as it does not interfere with the rights and safety of others or your agreed upon plan of care.

Know the names of the doctors and staff on your care team. We encourage you to ask them any questions you might have.

  • You should expect a reasonable response to your questions and requests for help.

Know about your diagnosis or illness so that you can take part in the planning of your care and treatment, understand your options and know how decisions will affect your health and well-being

  • You may request to talk with different doctors about procedures, tests and the results, as well as the medical outlook for your future.
  • You may say "no" to any care, tests or treatments, to the extent permitted by law.
  • You are encouraged to complete Advance Directives which tell your care team the care you want, how you want to be treated and whom you want to make decisions for you if you cannot speak for yourself.
  • You have the right to receive information in a manner you will understand and to have the person of your choice involved in making decisions, as you request.

Minimize your pain as much as possible during your hospital stay, during a test, or during a treatment

  • You, your family, the doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff will help you to make and understand a plan to manage your pain.
  • We will check with you about how you are feeling and change the plan to manage your pain as much as possible.

Be free from restraints or seclusion unless they are necessary to ensure physical safety, and if no less restrictive intervention is possible

Reasonable privacy

  • You may expect to talk with your doctors, nurses, social workers, or other healthcare professionals in private, and know that the information you give will be shared only with those people who need it to do their job.

Know the information in your medical record

  • Your medical records are private. You may look at your records and get a copy or summary within 30 days of our receiving your request. If we are unable to provide you with a copy or summary within 30 days, we will produce what we can and notify you of when your health information will be ready, which will be within 60 days of your request. We may charge a reasonable, cost-based fee for copies of your record.
  • For questions about medical records, see Medical Records and Release Forms.
  • Certain conditions, such as cancer, cases of some infectious diseases, work-related contact with poisons or other dangerous materials, and cases of child abuse, must be reported, even without your permission. In some cases involving concern about the care you receive, the medical center may disclose information in medical records to its own lawyers and agents.

Receive written notice of how your health information will be used and shared in order for you to receive the highest quality of care. This is called our Notice of Privacy Practices and it contains patient rights and our legal duties regarding your health information. You may request a copy of this Notice from any staff member.

Speak with any member of your health care team, Patient and Family Relations, or specially trained volunteers called Patient Voices Volunteers if you are unhappy with your care. Your care will not be affected in any way.

Be told fully about any research study in which you are asked to take part. This discussion should occur before you agree to enter the study.

  • If you are under the age of 18, your parent or guardian must give permission before any tests or treatments can be carried out in the course of the research study.
  • You have the right to refuse to take part in a research study. If you refuse to take part, it will not affect receiving treatment here in the future.

Understand instructions you will receive before leaving the hospital or clinic.

  • These instructions will describe how you and your family can participate in your recovery and ongoing health care plan once you are at home.

Leave the hospital, even if your doctor advises against it. You may not leave if you have certain infectious diseases that could affect the health of others, if you are not able to provide for your own health and safety or other people's safety is at risk, as defined by law.

  • You must sign a form saying the Medical Center is not responsible for any harm that comes to you as a result of leaving the facility.

In order to reduce concerns about paying your bill, you will be told of services available to help in paying for your care.

  • You have the right to look at and receive an explanation of your bills. This information can be obtained through Patient Financial Services.

Your responsibilities as a patient at Dartmouth Health

When you are a patient at Dartmouth Health, you, your family and your visitors have the responsibility to:

Be honest and tell us all you know about your past and present health including:

  • Sharing with your doctor or nurse if you think you are at risk, if your health has changed and what medications you are taking
  • Information about Advanced Directives (Living Will and/or Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare) and who will speak for you if you are unable to speak for yourself

Ask questions about anything you do not understand, including your treatment plan or what is expected of you. This includes making sure you understand the potential risks, benefits and side effects of your treatment.

Follow the plan that is developed by you and your treatment team.

  • If you have a concern about the plan, it is your responsibility to talk about it with your doctors and nurses.

Accept responsibility for your actions if you refuse treatment or do not follow instructions.

  • Your treatment plan may include recommendations about exercise, not smoking and eating a healthy diet.

Follow the rules and regulations of Dartmouth Health, including the no smoking policy.

Be respectful at all times to the staff, other patients, visitors and Dartmouth Health property.

Make a good faith effort to pay your medical bills in a timely fashion or ask for appropriate assistance.

If you have questions about your rights as a patient, or if you would like a copy of the New Hampshire state law which lists your rights, please call the Office of Care Management.