Patients' Rights & Responsibilities

Patient Rights

As someone admitted to a hospital licensed by the State of New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, you shall have the following rights during your stay. A copy of these rights is also posted in patient rooms.

Medical Care

  • To receive the care and health services that the hospital is required by law to provide.
  • To expect reasonable continuity of care.
  • To receive a clear explanation from your doctor of your complete medical condition, recommended treatment, expected results, risks involved, and reasonable medical alternatives. If your doctor believes that some of this information would be harmful to your health, or beyond your ability to understand, the explanation must be given to another person named by you to speak on your behalf.
  • To give or withhold written consent before the start of particular, non-emergency medical procedures or treatments. Your doctor should explain to you, in words you understand, specific details about the recommended procedures or treatment, any risks involved, time required for recovery, and any other reasonable medical choices.
  • To expect and receive proper pain management.
  • To be included in trial research only if you give informed, written consent. You have the right to refuse to participate. Human research does not include the mere collection of statistical data.
  • To refuse medication and treatment after possible outcomes of this decision have been explained clearly to you, unless the situation is life-threatening or the procedure is required by law.
  • To choose to use private duty nursing professionals or paraprofessionals (RN, LPN or Nursing Assistant) in accordance with hospital policy.

Communication and Information

  • To be informed of the name and role (licensure) of all healthcare professionals providing you with personal care. All hospital staff and each student intern shall be required to wear an identifying badge that includes the individual’s name and licensure status.
  • To receive, as soon as possible, interpretation services if you need them to help you communicate with the hospital’s healthcare staff at no cost to the patient.
  • To be informed of the names and roles of any outside healthcare and educational institutions involved in your treatment. You may refuse to allow their participation.
  • To receive, upon request, the hospital’s written policies and procedures regarding life-saving methods, and the use or withdrawal of life support mechanisms.
  • To be advised, in writing, of the hospital’s rules regarding the conduct of patients and visitors.
  • To receive a copy of your patient’s rights that include the name and phone number of the hospital staff member who will answer your questions and field your complaint about any possible violation of your rights.

Privacy and Confidentiality

  • To have physical privacy during medical treatment and personal hygiene functions, unless you need assistance. This right shall not hinder discussion and/or examination by appropriate healthcare staff.
  • To confidential treatment of information about you, the patient.
  • Information in your records will not be released to anyone outside the hospital without your approval, unless it is required by law, or third-party payment (insurance) requires it.
  • To give or withhold informed consent before using your likeness externally.

Legal Rights

  • To treatment and medical services without discrimination based on race, age, religion, national origin, sex, or source of payment.
  • To exercise all your constitutional, civil and legal rights.

Medical Records

  • To have prompt access to the information in your medical record, unless your doctor feels that this access is harmful to your health.
  • To obtain a copy of your medical record, for a reasonable fee, within 30 days after a written request is received by the hospital.

Cost of Hospital Care

  • To receive a copy of the hospital payment rates. If you request an itemized bill, the hospital must provide one, and explain any questions you may have. You have a right to appeal any charges.
  • To be informed by the hospital if part or all of your bill will not be covered by insurance. The hospital is required to help you obtain financial assistance and/or private healthcare benefits to which you may be entitled.

Discharge Planning

  • To receive information from your attending doctor about any ongoing healthcare needs when you leave the hospital and receive assistance in arranging for needed follow-up care.
  • To be given enough time before discharge to arrange for continuing healthcare needs.
  • To be informed by the hospital about any appeal process to which you are allowed by law, if you disagree with the hospital’s discharge plans.


  • To be informed by the hospital of the need to transfer you to another facility before the transfer and of any alternatives to transfer which may exist.
  • To receive in advance an explanation from your doctor of the reasons for your transfer and possible alternatives. The transfer shall not happen unless it is determined by your doctor to be medically necessary.

Personal Needs

  • To be treated with courtesy, consideration, and respect for your dignity and individuality.
  • To have access to storage space in your room for private use. The hospital will also provide a system to safeguard your personal property.
  • To have access to mail and telephones, unless the patient’s needs and/or special case would show this access to be harmful to the patient.

Freedom from Abuse and Restraints

  • To freedom from neglect and physical and mental abuse.
  • To freedom from restraints, unless a doctor authorizes them for a limited period of time to protect the safety of you or others.

Questions and Complaints

You have the right to present questions or grievances to a designated hospital staff member and to receive a response in a reasonable period of time. If you have concerns about your care or safety or have a complaint about any possible violation of your rights, please speak with the nurse manager. You may also contact the Service Excellence Team for Saint Peter’s Healthcare System at 732-565-5435. Saint Peter’s provides you with the following addresses and telephone numbers of government agencies that handle questions and complaints.

New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services P.O. Box 360 Trenton, NJ 08625-03606 Complaint Hotline: 800‑792‑9770

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

The Joint Commission 601 13th Street, NW Suite 560 South Washington, DC 20005 Complaints: 

To file a compliant click the below link:

For More Information

This list of patient rights is a condensed summary of the current New Jersey law and regulations governing the rights of hospital patients. For more complete information, consult the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

Patient Responsibilities

As a patient at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, we need your participation regarding the following responsibilities:

  • Provide correct information about past medical history.
  • Cooperate with our hospital staff and follow instructions, policies, rules and regulations that are in place to maintain safe and effective patient care.
  • Ask questions if directions or procedures are not clearly understood.
  • Be considerate of other patients.
  • Help control noise and the number of visitors and support a respectful and civil environment.
  • Provide information for the processing of your hospital bill and be responsible for any charges not covered by insurance.
  • Respect hospital property and that of other patients.
  • Comply with the hospital’s “No Smoking” policy.

PARTNERS: Keeping Health Care Safe and Effective

At Saint Peter’s, we believe health care is “at its best” when our physicians, nurses and staff work closely with you and your family to make your health care both safe and effective. Following are specific ways you can partner with us to have the best possible healthcare experience. For more details, please review the brochure, PARTNERS: Keeping Health Care Safe and Effective. A copy is included in the yellow Patient Education folder that you received upon your admission to the hospital.

  • Participate in all healthcare decisions. You are the center of our team.

  • Keep copies of your medical history, including treatment plans and a complete list of your medications. Share this information with your healthcare providers. Remember that herbs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, supplements and alternative therapies are part of your total health picture and should be shared with the team.
  • Be sure that you and your healthcare provider agree on your plan of care each step of the way. Don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion. Consult with one or two other doctors if you are unsure about your illness and the best plan of care.
  • Wash your hands. During your stay, especially after using the bathroom and before meals, help prevent infection by washing your hands thoroughly and frequently. Your healthcare providers, before and after each visit, will use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to disinfect their hands.

  • Ask questions. If you do not understand or have concerns, ask us. You have the right to know and understand your treatment plan and options. Learn approximately how long treatment will last and how you should feel. Write questions down and don’t be shy or embarrassed to ask us about something that is unclear or confusing.

  • Recognize the members of your healthcare team. Expect all staff to introduce themselves to you. Look for the picture on his/her identification badge. If you are not sure about someone, ask the person to identify himself/herself. Make sure the staff knows who you are and that they take necessary safety precautions such as checking your hospital wristband before giving you medication or taking you for a test.

  • Tell us what else you might need to make your plan of care work best. Tell us when you have pain, where the pain is and what it feels like. We will ask and want to know. Tell us if the medications or other treatments are helping your pain. Don’t be shy about telling us it is time for your pain medication, or if the medication did not help reduce your pain to a point that is acceptable for you. Pain is more difficult to control as it becomes worse—do not wait to tell us.
  • Notice the care and treatments you are receiving on an ongoing basis. Know the name, purpose, dosage and possible side effects of all your medications. Tell us if you are having any side effects. After taking your medication, tell your healthcare providers if you feel or notice anything that you did not expect. Remind your doctor or nurse about any allergies you have or negative reactions you have had in the past. Ask when you are not sure about whether to chew or swallow your medicine. Inform the nurse or doctor if you do not recognize a medication or it seems different. This could be:
    • different size, shape, or color of pill; for example, a capsule instead of a tablet.

    • a different size, liquid color or label on an intravenous (IV).

    • a different way or route for the medication to be given to you; for example, a shot instead of a pill.

    • a different time of day when the medication is given; for example, a pill you are typically given in the morning is given in the afternoon.

Educate yourself and your family about your diagnosis and treatment plans. Your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, your public library, respected websites and well-known support groups are all good sources of information on your diagnosis and treatment. Read the written information provided by your care providers.

More tests and treatments are not always the only or best choices; rather, ask what a new test, medication or therapy is likely to do.

The TIGR System, a part of our patient education program, can help you understand how to manage your health condition. You can access this free service on your telephone by dialing extension 7800 and following the prompts in either English or Spanish. You will use the phone to select the correct television channel and access the menu of topics that includes diabetes, pneumonia, heart attack, safety, cancer, baby care, and many others.

If you need assistance your nurse will be happy to help you and may even recommend topics you should view. You will not be charged for the television or telephone service to access this learning system.

Request a trusted family member or friend to be your support person, your advocate. Make sure your advocate understands your preferences and your wishes.

Review consents for treatments and procedures with this person before you sign them to make sure you understand to what you are agreeing. Request of your advocate to ask questions and write down answers if you are stressed or in pain.

Ask your advocate to help you with visitors and phone calls, so that you get the rest you need.

Identify a designated caregiver, if you wish to do so. A designated caregiver may be a relative, spouse, partner, friend or neighbor with whom you have a significant relationship. You designate this individual to provide after-care assistance when you return home. Your designated caregiver will be provided instruction on your after-care assistance tasks.

Get ready for discharge as soon as possible. We want you to feel ready for discharge before you leave Saint Peter’s University Hospital.


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