Virginia Mason Medical Center Patient Rights and Responsibilities

If you have any questions about your rights and responsibilities as a patient at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, please feel free to ask any of the professionals who are caring for you.

Patient rights and responsibilities downloadable and translation materials:

English 
Korean
Spanish
Russian

Patient rights

While you’re a patient at Virginia Mason Medical Center, you have the right to expect:

VMMC Patient Rights & Responsibilities

  • Nondiscrimination

    You have the right to be free from any act of discrimination or reprisal. Virginia Mason does not discriminate against any person on the basis of age, culture, employment, ethnicity, expression, gender identity, language, national origin, participation in programs, physical or mental disability, race, religion, services and activities, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or treatment. For further information about this policy, contact Director, Patient Relations, 206-223-6616; 1-800-833-6384 (TTY).

  • Respect

    You have the right to be treated and cared for with dignity and respect.

  • Participation in your care

    You have the right to relevant, current and understandable information concerning your diagnosis, various treatment options, prognosis and costs. One of our most important jobs is keeping you informed. You have the right to participate in decisions regarding your care, including refusing treatment and agreement to care.

  • Advance directives

    You have the right to participate in ethical questions that arise in the course of your care, including conveying your wishes regarding end-of-life decisions, such as life-sustaining treatment. You have the right to expect that your health care providers will comply with your decisions. 

  • Privacy and confidentiality

    You have the right to every consideration of privacy, including personal needs. This also means that case discussion, consultation, examination and treatment should be conducted so as to protect your privacy. Similarly, you have the right to expect that all written communications and records about your treatment be treated as strictly confidential, except in cases permitted or required by law, such as suspected abuse or public health hazards. You have the right to be informed about how Virginia Mason will use or share information about you. To facilitate communications between your health care providers, your name may be posted next to your room number on a board at the nursing station. If you have any concerns with your name being posted on this board, please discuss them with your nurse.

  • Information access

    You have the right to review all records pertaining to your medical care and to have the information fully explained to you, except when such disclosure is restricted by law. You also have the right to request an amendment to your medical record.

  • Appropriate care

    You have the right to expect that Virginia Mason will make a reasonable response to your request for appropriate care and services. We will provide evaluation, service and/or referral as indicated by the urgency of each case. Only when it is medically appropriate and legally permissible will you be transferred to another facility. Your requests to be transferred will be honored based on medical, legal and payer requirements. Quality of care and premature discharge complaints should be addressed to the Patient Relations Department and will be referred to a utilization and quality control peer review committee for resolution. You have the right to be informed of unanticipated outcomes.

  • Pain management

    You have the right to expect information about pain and pain relief measures. We will provide knowledgeable staff members committed to pain prevention that will respond quickly to reports of pain.

  • Knowledge of staff Information and relationships

    You have the right to know the names of everyone involved in your care, their titles, education and relationship with the medical center. You have the right to know of business relationships between Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and educational institutions and other health care providers.

  • Freedom to participate in research

    You have the right to consent or decline to participate in proposed studies or human experimentation affecting care and treatment. You have the right to have studies explained to you prior to your consent. You have the right to be given a description of alternative services that might also prove advantageous to you. If you decide not to participate in research, you are still entitled to the most effective care the medical center can otherwise provide.

  • Continuity

    You have the right to expect reasonable continuity of care and to be informed by physicians and care providers of available and realistic patient care options that Virginia Mason Franciscan Health may not be able to directly provide.

  • Support

    You have the right to spiritual care. You have the right to have your family or representative, and your personal physician promptly notified of your admission to the hospital. You have the right to communicate. If communication restrictions are necessary for patient care and safety, we must document and explain the restriction to you and your family.

  • Information about medical center policies

    You have the right to be informed of all medical center policies and practices that relate to your care and treatment. You have the right to be informed of available resources for resolving disputes, grievances and conflicts. Similarly, you have the right to be informed of the medical charges for services and available payment methods.

  • Restraints

    You have the right to be free from restraints of any form that are not medically necessary or are used as a means of coercion, discipline, convenience or retaliation by staff. A restraint may be either physical or a drug that is being used as a restraint.

  • Safety

    You have the right to access protective services and information regarding such services is available at all Virginia Mason Franciscan Health locations. You have the right to security and to receive care in a safe setting. You have the right to be protected from abuse, neglect and harassment.

  • Who makes decisions when you cannot

    Under state law if you are determined incompetent to make medical decisions, then a legally authorized representative may exercise those rights on your behalf. Based on the order of priority set forth in state law, the legally authorized representative may be a court-appointed representative, an individual to whom you previously delegated authority to exercise such rights or other individual as permitted by law.

Patient relations: Compliments and complaints/grievances

If you have a concern about patient safety, quality of care or other problem, we encourage you to first discuss them with your physician or ask to speak with the manager of that area. Compliment/complaint forms are also located throughout the medical center and may be filled out. Please contact the Patient Relations Department at the address below, if you have a complaint, concern or grievance:

Patient Relations, Virginia Mason Medical Center C1-PTR
P.O. Box 900, Seattle, WA 98111-0900
Phone: 206-223-6616

The Department will respond within 48 business hours. The usual expected timeframe for resolution is within seven business days. If a longer period is required, Patient Relations will timely communicate to the patient the anticipated timeframe. Please be assured that you may share your concerns, complaint or grievance without fear of retribution or denial of care. You have the right to work with us to resolve issues related to your care.

If a problem is not resolved to your satisfaction, the medical center has an Appeals Committee. To file an appeal, contact the Patient Relations Department as noted above. You also have the option to contact the following agencies in addition to, or instead of, the medical center’s Appeals Committee:

Washington State Department of Health (DOH), Health Systems Quality Assurance, Complaint Intake

P.O. Box 47857 Olympia, WA 98504-7857
Phone: 1-800-633-6828 (toll-free) or 360-236-4700
Email: [email protected]
Fax: 360-236-2626

The joint commission

At www.jointcommission.org, use the "report a patient safety event" link in the "action center" on the home page.

Fax: 630-792-5636
Mail to the office of:
Quality and Patient Safety, The Joint Commission
One Renaissance Boulevard, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
Phone: 1-800-994-6610 (toll-free)

Billing issues

Billing questions can be directed to the Billing Department at 206-223-6601.

Patient responsibilities

To give you the best care possible, we need your help. By assuming the following responsibilities, you can contribute to your care in a positive way. We ask that you:

  • Provide accurate and complete information about present complaints, past illnesses, hospitalization, medications and other matters relating to your health.
  • Report unexpected changes in your condition to your physician or other health care provider.
  • Report symptoms of pain when they first begin and discuss pain relief options with your doctor or nurse. Work with your care provider to develop a pain management plan. Tell your care provider if your pain is not relieved.
  • Follow the treatment plan recommended by our health care team, including following the instructions of your providers. Keep medical appointments and notify your provider’s office if you are unable to do so.
  • Take responsibility for your well-being.
  • Follow hospital rules and regulations affecting patient care and conduct.
  • Be considerate of the rights of other patients and hospital and clinic personnel.
  • Refrain from behavior that is threatening or disruptive to the operations of Virginia Mason or is abusive to the staff. Such behavior includes bringing weapons of any kind onto hospital or clinic property, which may result in steps to immediately terminate the patient relationship with your provider or the entire medical center.
  • Regardless of the type of insurance coverage you have, pay your bill promptly or make arrangements with our financial services department before entering the hospital.
  • Tell us whether you truly understand your care plan and what your role in the plan is.

Virginia Mason Medical Center Policies