Patient Rights & Privacy Policies

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

A Federal law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), establishes requirements for hospitals regarding how they use and share patient information. The law became effective on April 14, 2003.

Palmetto Health maintains a directory containing the name and location of patients who have elected to be included. Upon admission to Palmetto Health, patients are asked if they would like to be included in the directory. The directory allows family, friends and possibly clergy who ask for you by name to be given your room number when they call or visit the hospital. HIPAA law prohibits hospitals from providing information about patients who have chosen not to be in the patient directory. This also applies to patients who have not yet had the opportunity to authorize their inclusion in the directory. If a patient elects not to be included in the directory, individuals who inquire will be told, "We have no information about that person."

If a person seeking information about a patient has been told, "We have no information about that person," it is suggested that they contact an immediate family member of the patient for information.

Flowers or cards sent to a patient who is not listed in the patient directory will not be delivered unless they include the patient's name and room number as this could be construed as an acknowledgment that the person is a patient in the hospital. Additionally, patients not listed in the patient directory will be unable to receive phone calls made through the hospital switchboard.

For additional details, including how patient medical information may be used or disclosed and how a patient can access their medical information, click here to read Joint Notice of Privacy Practices or click the links below to access the following forms. Please send/mail a copy of a Photo ID with Authorization Form. Copy Service fees are applicable. For additional information, call 803-296-5865.

As a patient in our Joint Commission accredited health care facility, you have many rights that we are committed to protecting and promoting. Whenever possible, we will inform you of your rights in advance of furnishing or discontinuing your care. Your rights include the following:

  1. To have the staff promptly notify a family member/representative and your physician of your admission to the health care facility.
  2. To considerate and respectful care, and to give us feedback about your care. You have the right to personal dignity.
  3. To have your cultural, psychosocial, spiritual and personal values, beliefs and preferences respected. You have the right to wear appropriate personal clothing and religious or other symbolic items, as long as they do not interfere with diagnostic procedures or treatment. You have the right to pastoral and other spiritual services.
  4. To participate in the development and implementation of your plan of care, and to know the identity and professional status of those involved in your care, including if the care giver is a student or trainee or is professionally associated with other individuals or health care institutions involved in your care.
  5. To make informed decisions about your care, treatment and services. This includes being informed of your health status: being involved—prior to and during the course of treatment—in your care planning and treatment, being informed as to all proposed technical procedures and treatment—including the potential benefit(s) and potential drawback(s) or risk(s) as well as alternatives for care, being able to request or refuse medically appropriate treatment to the extent permitted by law and health care facility policy, and to be informed of the medical consequences of such action. If you refuse a recommended treatment, you will receive other medically needed, indicated and available care.
  6. To formulate an advance directive (such as a Living Will or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care) with the expectation that the staff and practitioners will honor the directive to the extent permitted by law and Palmetto Health policy. If you have a written advance directive, you should provide a copy to the health care facility, your family and your doctor. These documents express your choices about your future care or name someone for you if you cannot speak for yourself.
  7. To expect that, within capacity and policies, the health care facility will make a reasonable response to any patient’s request for appropriate and medically indicated care and services, including the management of pain. Our health care facility is committed to providing individuals impartial access to treatment or accommodations that are available or medically indicated, regardless of race, creed, sex, national origin, or sources of payment for care.
  8. If requested or if medically appropriate and legally permissible, you may be transferred to another facility after being informed about the need for, risks, benefits, and alternatives to transfer. You will not be transferred until the other facility agrees to accept you and you agree to transfer.
  9. To personal privacy, to receive care in a safe setting, and to be free from all forms of abuse or harassment. You have the right to refuse to talk with or see anyone not officially connected with the health care facility, including visitors, or people officially connected with the health care facility but not directly involved in your care. You have the right to expect that any discussion or consultation involving your care will be conducted discreetly and that individuals not directly involved in your care will not be present without your permission. You have the right to be interviewed and examined in surroundings designed to assure reasonable visual and auditory privacy. This includes having the right to have a person of one’s own sex present during certain parts of a physical examination, treatment or procedure performed by a health professional of the opposite sex and the right not to remain disrobed any longer than is required for accomplishing the medical purpose for which disrobing is needed.
  10. To access people outside of the health care facility by means of visitors and by verbal and written communication, as long as it does not interfere with treatment.
  11. If you do not speak or understand the predominant language of the community, access to an interpreter can be provided.
  12. To be free from restraints of any form that are not medically necessary. For behavior management, all patients have the right to be free from seclusion and restraints except in the case of an emergency, when there is an imminent risk of an individual physically harming himself/herself or others, and less restrictive interventions would be ineffective.
  13. To confidentiality of your clinical records, except in such cases as suspected abuse or public health hazards and/or when reporting is permitted or required by law. You have the right to have your medical record read only by individuals directly involved in your treatment or in the monitoring of quality. Other individuals can only read your medical record on your written authorization or that of your legally authorized representative. You have the right to expect all communications and other records pertaining to your care, including the source of payment for treatment, to be treated as confidential.
  14. To access information contained in your clinical records within a reasonable time frame, and to have the information explained or interpreted as necessary, except when restricted by law and/or as long as it does not interfere with treatment.
  15. To know if this health care facility has relationships with other health care facilities, educational institutions or other outside parties that may influence your care.
  16. To consent or decline to take part in research affecting your care. If you choose not to take part, you will receive the most effective care the health care facility otherwise provides.
  17. To examine and receive an explanation of your bill, regardless of source of payment. You have the right to know about payment methods. At your request and your expense, you have the right to consult with a medical specialist.
  18. To expect reasonable continuity of care when appropriate and to be informed of realistic care alternatives when the health care facility services are no longer appropriate.
  19. To be informed of the health care facility policies and practices that relate to your care, treatment and responsibilities. You have the right to know about the health care facility resources, such as patient representatives, patient complaints and grievance processes, or ethics committees, that can help you promptly resolve problems and questions about the health care facility services.
  20. To ask questions about the care you are receiving. Contact your nurse, or if you wish for your nurse to contact your physician, a call will be placed to that physician or to the physician who is covering your care that day. If requested, the nurse will provide a telephone number for your physician and can assist you with making the call. You have the right to know who is involved in your care. Every caregiver at Palmetto Health will be wearing an identification badge clearly stating his or her name, department and job or title.
  21. To voice a concern about your stay and be involved in resolving dilemmas about care, treatment and services. Your concerns are very important to us and we would appreciate the opportunity to resolve them. If you have a concern/grievance, please speak with the staff or request to speak with the unit/department supervisor/manager. If you would rather express the concern/grievance to a patient liaison, call the appropriate number at the bottom of this notice. Staff are available to assist you anytime during your stay and will seek prompt resolution to your concern/grievance. If you want to contact an outside agency before the hospital representative, you may also contact the Department of Health and Environmental Control, 2600 Bull Street, Columbia, SC (803)898-3432, and/or The Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence, 246 Stoneridge Drive, Suite 200, Columbia, SC 29210, (803)251-2215 or (800)922-3089. If you have concerns about patient care and safety in the hospital that have not been addressed by the hospital, you may contact Joint Commission at 1-800-994-6610 or

Patient Responsibilities

As a patient in our Joint Commission accredited health care facility you have many responsibilities. This is to inform you that you, your family and/or your designated advocate are responsible for:

  1. Providing, to the best of your knowledge, accurate and complete information about present symptoms, reason for your visit, past illnesses, hospitalizations, use of medications (prescribed, nonprescribed and herbals), and other matters relating to your health.
  2. Helping ensure your safety by knowing your health care providers and reporting concerns, perceived risks, or unexpected changes in your care, treatment, medical condition and/or service provided to you. If you have any suggestions for improving patient safety, please let us know.
  3. Speaking Up—Asking questions when you do not understand what you have been told about your diagnosis, medical tests, treatment plan, medications, care or what you are expected to do.
  4. Participating in decisions about your treatment and following the care, service or treatment plan developed. You should express any concerns you have about your ability to follow and comply with the proposed care plan or course of treatment to staff and/or your physician. Every effort is made to adapt the plan to your specific needs and limitations. When such adaptations to the care, treatment and/or service plan are not recommended, you are responsible for understanding the consequences of the care, treatment and service alternatives and the possible outcomes if you do not follow the care, treatment or service plan.
  5. Following the health care facility’s rules and regulations concerning patient care and conduct.
  6. Being considerate and respectful of the health care facility’s personnel and property.
  7. Providing information for insurance and for working with the health care facility to arrange payment when needed.
  8. Promptly meeting any financial obligation agreed to with the health care facility.
  9. Being considerate of other patients, helping control noise and disturbances, abiding by non-smoking policies, and respecting others’ property.
  10. Recognizing the effect of lifestyle on your personal health.

For more information about your rights or responsibilities or to give us feedback on your care, please contact Patient Relations, 803-296-5129 at Palmetto Health Baptist, 803-907-1515 at Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge, 803-434-6237 at Palmetto Health Richland and 864-442-7559 at Baptist Easley Hospital.

Last Revised Date: October 6, 2009