Patient Bill of Rights & Responsibilities  

Virtua provides inpatient and outpatient care on a non-discriminatory basis under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010.

All patients are admitted and receive care without regard to their sex, age, disability, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity  or ability to pay. 

You have the right to be notified of your rights and how to file a grievance. Learn more below about the following:

  • Patient Rights
  • Patient Responsibilities
  • Bioethics Committee
  • Advance Directives
Click to view Spanish Version of Patient Rights.

Language Assistance Services (Non-English)

Virtua provides free language services, including qualified interpreters, to people whose primary language is not English. The following Language Assistance Services Information is provided in multiple languages.

Patient rights

As a patient in a New Jersey hospital, you have the right to: 

Medical Care

  • Receive an understandable explanation from your physician of your complete medical condition including recommended treatment, expected results, risks and reasonable alternatives. If your physician believes that some of this information would be detrimental to your health or beyond your ability to understand, the explanation must be given to your next of kin or guardian.

  • Give informed written consent prior to the start of specified, nonemergency medical procedures or treatments only after your physician has explained—in terms you can understand—specific details about the recommended procedure or treatment, the risks, time to recover and reasonable medical alternatives.

  • Be informed of the hospital’s written policies and procedures regarding life-saving methods and the use or withdrawal of life-support.

  • Refuse medication and treatment to the extent permitted by law and to be informed of the medical consequences of refusal.

  • Be included in experimental research only when you have given informed consent to participate.

  • Choose your own private professional nurse and to contract directly for this care during hospitalization. You can request from the hospital a list of local non-profit professional nurses association registries that refer nurses.

  • Receive appropriate assessment and treatment for pain.

Transfers

  • Be transferred to another facility only if the current hospital is unable to provide the level of appropriate medical care or if the transfer is requested by you or your next of kin or guardian.

  • Receive from a physician in advance an explanation of the reasons for transfer including alternatives, verification of acceptance from the receiving facility, and assurance that the move will not worsen your medical condition.

Communication and Information

  • Be treated with courtesy, consideration and respect for your dignity and individuality.

  • Know the names and functions of all physicians and other health care professionals directly caring for you.

  • Expeditiously receive the services of a translator or interpreter, if needed, to communicate with the hospital staff.

  • Be informed of the names, titles, and duties of other health care professionals and educational institutions that participate in your treatment. You have the right to refuse to allow their participation.

  • Be advised in writing of the hospital’s rules regarding the conduct of patients and visitors.

  • Receive a summary of your rights as a patient, including the name(s) and phone number(s) of the hospital staff to whom to direct questions or complaints about possible violations of your rights. If at least 10% of the hospital’s service area speaks your native language, you can receive a copy of the summary in your native language.

Medical Records

  • Have prompt access to your medical records. If your physician feels that this access is detrimental to your health, your next of kin or guardian has a right to see your records.

  • Obtain a copy of your medical records at a reasonable fee within 30 days after submitting a written request to the hospital.

Cost of Hospital Care

  • Receive a copy of the hospital charges, an itemized bill, if requested, and an explanation.

  • Appeal any charges and receive an explanation of the appeals process.

  • Obtain the hospital’s help in securing public assistance and private health care benefits to which you may be entitled.

Discharge Planning

  • Be informed about any need for follow-up care and receive assistance in obtaining this care required after your discharge from the hospital.

  • Receive sufficient time before discharge to arrange for follow-up care after hospitalization.

  • Be informed by the hospital about the discharge appeal process.

Privacy and Confidentiality

  • Be provided with physical privacy during medical treatment and personal hygiene functions, unless you need assistance.

  • Be assured confidentiality about your patient stay. Your medical and financial records shall not be released to anyone outside the hospital without your approval, unless you are transferred to another facility that requires the information, or release of the information is required and permitted by law.

  • Have access to individual storage space for your private use and to safeguard your property if unable to assume that responsibility.

Freedom from Abuse and Restraints

  • Be free from physical and mental abuse.

  • Be free from restraints unless authorized by a physician for a limited period of time to protect your safety or the safety of others.

Civil Rights

  • Receive treatment and medical services without discrimination based on race, age, religion, national origin, sex, sexual preferences, handicap, diagnosis, ability to pay or source of payment.

  • Exercise your constitutional, civil and legal rights.

Questions, Complaints and Appeals

  • Ask questions or file grievances about patient rights with a designated hospital staff member and receive a response within a reasonable period.

  • If you have a complaint or grievance, you may present that complaint in person or by calling the Patient Representative of the appropriate facility at Virtua Berlin, Virtua Camden, Virtua Washington Township (856) 322-3434; Virtua Marlton Hospital (856) 355-6555; Virtua Memorial Hospital (609) 914-6555; or Virtua Voorhees Hospital (856) 247-3555.

  • Be provided, by the hospital, with contact information for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services unit that handles questions.  New Jersey Department of Health Complaint Hotline is 1-800-792-9770.

  • You may also contact the Joint Commission with complaints/grievances at 1-800-994-6610.

This is an abbreviated summary of the current New Jersey Patient Rights taken from the NJ-DHHS web site dated May, 2011.  You may obtain a complete copy of your rights from Virtua Administration and/or the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services.

PATIENT RESPONSIBILITIES

Cooperation

The ability to provide quality care and treatment requires each patient’s cooperation. You, as the patient, are responsible to:

  • Provide accurate and complete information regarding present illness, past medical history, and other matters relating to your health

  • Report any other changes in your condition to the physician

  • Make known whether you satisfactorily understand your health problems and/or any possible treatment that may be administered

  • Follow the treatment plan recommended by the physician and to assist nurses and other medical personnel in the adherence to instructions

  • Accept responsibility for your actions and the results if you refuse treatment or do not follow instructions

  • Fulfill the financial obligations of your healthcare promptly

  • Follow the hospital’s rules and regulations affecting your care, conduct, and safety; be considerate of the rights of other patients and hospital personnel; control the noise and conduct of your visitors and the security of your personal belongings and the property of others

BIOETHICS COMMITTEE

Available for Consultation

While decision-making should continue to be between the patient, family and physician, each hospital has a Bioethics Committee available for consultation in an advisory capacity. Consult the committee if you have concerns regarding end-of-life care, pain management/ comfort care, advance directives or issues regarding spiritual care. If you wish to speak with someone from the Bioethics Committee, contact Patient Relations or ask for the Nursing Supervisor.

Advance Directives

Decisions About Your Care

What is the purpose of an advance directive?
If a serious medical condition prevents you from communicating your treatment decisions, the responsibility for making decisions about your care will fall to your family, physician, hospital or sometimes a court of law. Preparing an advance directive, however, allows you to express your wishes regarding end-of-life treatment when you are unable to choose or refuse various types of medical care for yourself.

This information explains your rights to make decisions about your own health care under New Jersey law, and your rights as a patient. It also tells you how to plan ahead for your health care if you become unable to decide for yourself because of an illness or accident.

What types of medical conditions and treatments are involved?
An advance directive is only implemented under specific conditions, when people are determined to be unable to make healthcare decisions or speak for themselves. Patients must have a terminal illness, or conditions that leave them in a persistent, vegetative state such as severe brain damage and coma before their advance directive would be implemented. Some of the more common treatments people may want to address when preparing an advance directive include: cardiac resuscitation, respirators or breathing machines, artificial or tube feedings, renal or kidney dialysis, antibiotic treatments, blood transfusions and surgery.

What should be considered before establishing an advance directive?
Prior to preparing an advance directive, people are encouraged to answer these questions based on their beliefs and backgrounds.

Do you want any of the following medical treatments performed?

  • Kidney dialysis if your kidneys stop working.
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR if your heart stops beating.
  • Assisted-breathing through a ventilator or respirator, which is a machine that breathes for you if your lungs are not working.
  • Artificial nutrition if you cannot feed yourself.
  • Artificial hydration if you are unable to drink fluids.
  • What are your feelings about life-sustaining measures if you had a terminal disease?
  • How do you feel about living alone and being independent?
  • Do your religious beliefs affect your feelings about illness and death?
  • Do you want to donate parts of your body at the time of your death? (This is called organ/tissue donation.)
  • What would be important to you if you were dying e.g., physical comfort, relief from pain, presence of family members, etc.?
  • Should your doctor make the final decision about needed medical treatments?
  • Do you expect family, friends and others to support your medical decisions?
  • Is there one family member who you know would respect your wishes that you would choose as your decision maker, healthcare proxy or representative?
  • Are you comfortable signing a legal document that states who will make your medical decisions?
  • Do you have any other medical wishes that you want people to know?

Can I change my mind?
An advance directive can be changed at any time, and does not become effective until the time when you can no longer make medical decisions for yourself and are terminally ill. Be sure to notify your proxy if your beliefs change.

Are there different types of advance directives?
An advance directive is a legal document, which anyone age 18 or older can have, that describes your medical wishes in the event that you were unable to make decisions for yourself. There are three different types of advance directives.

Instruction directive or living will is a document that instructs healthcare providers about your medical choices, including treatments you do or do not wish to receive.
Proxy directive or durable power-of-attorney is a document in which you name another person (proxy) to make healthcare decisions for you.
Combined directive includes instructions about treatments you prefer or want to avoid, and allows you to pick a person to state your wishes for medical treatment.

Who should I talk to before filling out an advance directive?
While choices concerning life and death are personal ones, they also affect the people who are close to you. For this reason, it is often helpful to discuss your medical choices with your family, friends, spiritual advisor, physician, and proxy if you choose one. Questions about the kinds of medical procedures that are used when illness is severe and recovery unlikely can be best answered by your physician. While you may consult an attorney if you wish, it is not necessary.

Must physicians, family and others follow my advance directive?
Yes. Everyone responsible for your care must respect your decisions as stated in your advance directive. This is a legal document that must be signed, dated and witnessed by two people or notarized. The person you choose to be your proxy or healthcare representative must be at least age 18. If your doctor, nurse, or other professional, however, has a sincere objection to your decision to refuse life-sustaining treatment, he or she may have your care transferred to another professional who will follow your wishes.

What should I do with my advance directive?
You should give a copy to your family physician, healthcare representative or proxy, family member(s) and other people who are close to you. Bring a copy when you are admitted to a hospital, nursing home or other healthcare facility. Your advance directive becomes a part of your medical record. We ask you for a copy during each admission, to insure that we have the most current copy that reflects your wishes. Keep a copy of your advance directive in a safe place so it can be located if needed.

Do I need an advance directive to be treated or admitted to the hospital?
No. If you do not have an advance directive, it will in no way affect the quality of care you are provided. You do not have to fill out any of the advance directive forms that may be presented to you at a hospital, and you will still get medical treatment. Furthermore, your insurance company cannot deny coverage based on whether or not you have an advance directive.

How can I get a copy of an advance directive form?
If you need assistance or would like a copy of an advance directive form, please call one of the Virtua facilities below and ask for the Patient Relations Department.

  • Virtua Camden
    (856) 246-3598, ext. 63598
  • Virtua Marlton Hospital
    (856) 355-6555, ext. 56555
  • Virtua Memorial Hospital
    (609) 267-0700, ext. 43254
  • Virtua Voorhees Hospital
    (856) 247-3555, ext. 73555