Thursday, June 16, 2011

Who Can Visit You in the Hospital? Anyone You Want!

We've all experienced it.  We wanted to visit a friend or relative in the hospital, but were told that visits were restricted to immediate family members.

No More!  Under new federal regulations, hospitals are now required to allow patients to have any visitors they want.

This new policy, which took effect in November 2010, recognizes that a patient should be able to choose whoever they'd like to be at their bedside.  Hospital care should be as "patient-centered" as possible, not guided by blanket rules designed to make life easier for hospital staff.  The policy recognizes that it's important for the patient to have the person who knows the patient's medical condition best to be present to talk with hospital staff, especially if the patient has difficulty recalling or communicating their own medical information.  In many cases, this person is not always a member of the patient's immediate family or "next of kin."

Of course, hospitals have the right--and the responsibility--to limit this visitor permission in certain circumstances, such as infection control, bad behavior of visitors, and other circumstances that would "jeopardize the care of the patient or other patients."  But these limitations are expected to be the rare exception rather than the rule.

So, while it's still probably not a good idea to invite the entire neighborhood to a party in your hospital room, you now have a great deal more control over which smiling faces you invite to come by and spend time with you.  And that can mean a lot!

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