Patient Rights & Responsibilities

Meritus Medical Center welcomes you! Our employees are ready to provide excellent care as prescribed or recommended by your team of physicians. To assist in this goal, it is important for you to know your rights as a patient, as well as your responsibilities. Together, we can get you on your way to the fullest recovery possible. Access to this medical center is given without discrimination as to age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, language, physical or mental disability, socioeconomic status, type of illness, ethical or political belief, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.


  • To know by name the physician/provider, nurses and staff members participating in and responsible for your care.
  • To hear from your primary physician/provider, in language you understand, your diagnosis, the treatment prescribed, the prognosis of your illness and any instructions required for follow-up care. If you do not speak English or are deaf, you will have access to an interpreter.
  • To know the reason you are given various tests and treatments and the identity of the persons who give them to you.
  • To know the general nature and inherent risk of any procedure or treatment prescribed for you and give permission (informed consent) before any non-emergency care is provided.
  • To change your mind about any procedure for which you have given your consent.
  • To refuse to sign a consent form if you feel everything has not been explained to your satisfaction or to cross out any part of the consent form that you do not want applied to your care.
  • To refuse treatment and to be informed of the medical consequences of this action.
  • To have your pain appropriately assessed and managed.
  • To request a consultation or second opinion from another physician.
  • To consult with a member of the hospital ethics committee regarding care and treatment-related issues which have not been resolved through discussion with the health care team, such as the continuation of life support measures. Please make your request known to any member of your health care team.
  • To create or change an advance directive (also known as a living will or durable power of attorney for health care).
  • To request a change in physicians or to change hospitals.
  • To receive a full explanation of any research project or medical training program you are asked to participate in and the right to refuse to participate.
  • To voice any complaints or concerns about the quality of your care without fear or intimidation and to get assistance on how to file a formal complaint or grievance with the patient advocate or other regulatory agency.
  • To know that the hospital is responsible for your care while you are a patient here, and you have the right to respectful and compassionate care given by competent personnel.
  • To know that your nurse has the right and responsibility to make inquiries and advocate on your behalf with your physician/provider or higher authorities in the health system.
  • To be free from the inappropriate use of restraints and seclusion unless needed for your safety.
  • To receive visitors and limit those persons who visit you.
  • To have a family member, friend or other individual of your choice present for emotional support during the course of your stay, unless that individual’s presence infringes on others’ rights, safety or is medically or therapeutically not recommended.
  • To expect your personal privacy to be respected to the fullest extent consistent with the care prescribed for you.
  • To expect all communications and other records pertaining to your care, including the course of payment for treatment, to be kept confidential. If you feel your privacy and/or confidentiality have been breached, you may contact the privacy officer at 301-790-8730.
  • To examine your hospital bill and to receive an explanation of it.


  • To provide information about your past illnesses, hospital stays, medications and other matters related to your health history.
  • To cooperate and to follow the care prescribed or recommended for you by your physician, nurses and other members of the health care team and to ask questions if you do not understand your diagnosis, treatment recommendations or prognosis.
  • To advise your nurse, physician or patient representative of any dissatisfaction you may have in regard to your care at the hospital and expect your concern to be reviewed and addressed objectively without retribution. You are responsible for letting our staff know if you have any questions or problems.
  • To establish advance directives such as living wills or appointment of health care agents and to communicate them, or any changes, with your designated representative and health care team. To participate in patient care decisions as the parent (patient younger than 18 years of age) and/or surrogate decision-maker of a patient
  • To be courteous to other patients and staff and follow hospital policy regarding patient and visitor behavior, expectations and regulations. Meritus Medical Center is responsible for providing an atmosphere that promotes healing for our patients. You are responsible to control your noise level, manage the behavior of your visitors and respect the property of Meritus Medical Center.
  • To comply with the hospital visitation policy. Let your nurse know if you feel you are receiving too many outside visitors and to be considerate of other patients and hospital staff by assisting in the control of noise and the number of visitors you receive. The visitation policy may vary from unit to unit.
  • To comply with the smoke free rules of both the Meritus Medical Center campus and Robinwood Professional Center condominium campus. We are a smoke free environment for the health of our patients, visitors and staff. Smoking or vaping is not permitted on the medical campus grounds, in any buildings or vehicles in the parking lots.
  • To refrain from taking drugs other than those medications given to you by the Meritus staff or consuming alcohol. Meritus Medical Center reserves the right to search patient rooms and belongings for illegal substances if illegal activity is suspected.
  • To protect your belongings. You are responsible for the safety of your belongings during your hospital stay. We are not responsible for any lost or stolen patient belongings. We expect that you leave your valuables at home or request they be stored in a secured locked area of the admissions department.
  • To accept your financial obligations associated with your care and to make payment for services provided by Meritus

Your Medical Record

You have the right to access information in your medical record and the right to request an amendment to your medical record. Medical records that contain behavioral health and addictions information must have approval by the behavioral health administration before release to the patient. To view or request a copy of information from your medical record, you must obtain and sign an “Authorization for Release of Medical Records” form. To amend your medical record, a “Request for Amendment of Protected Health Information” form must be completed. Both forms are available in the medical records department which can be reached at 301-790-8137. There is a processing fee if you request a copy of any portion of your medical record.

Patient Advocacy

When necessary, the patient advocate can act as a liaison between you and your physicians in order to help you understand the aspects of your medical care. If you or your family members have concerns about any aspect of your care, please contact the clinical manager on the unit or his/ her designee. Should our management staff not satisfy your concerns, please contact the patient advocate’s office at 301-790-8662 or 301-790-8499.

The hospital has a process for resolving concerns about your care. Unless the issue is urgent, you can expect to hear from someone within three business days. Should your complaint not be resolved by the hospital to your satisfaction you may contact the regulatory or state agencies listed.

Your Right to Make Health care Decisions

There may be times when you cannot make your wishes known to your doctor or other health care providers. If you were taken to a hospital in a coma, you would want the hospital's medical staff to know what your specific wishes are about your medical care.

This page describes what the federal law has to say about your rights to inform your health care providers and significant others about the medical care and treatment you want if you are physically or mentally unable to make those decisions yourself.

Because this is an important matter, we urge you to talk to your spouse, family, close friends, personal advisor(s), your doctor and your attorney before deciding whether you want an advance directive.

Advanced Directives FAQ

What are advanced directives?

Advance directives are documents that state your choices about medical treatment and/or name someone to make decisions about your medical treatment if you are unable to make these decisions or choices yourself. Through advance directives, you can make legally valid decisions about your future medical care.

Most states recognize three types of advance directives:

  • A living will
  • An appointment of health care agency
  • An oral directive

Do I have to have an advanced directive?

No. But if questions arise about medical treatment, advance directives may help to clarify these important issues.

Will I receive medical care if I do not have an advance directive?

Yes. There is a chance, however, that you will receive more treatment or procedures than you may want.

If you cannot speak for yourself and you do not have any advance directives, your health care provider will look to the following people, in the order listed, for decisions about your care.

  • Your guardian, if a court has appointed one.
  • Your spouse or domestic partner.
  • Your adult children.
  • Your parents.
  • Your adult brothers or sisters.

To whom should I talk about advance directives?

Before writing your instructions you should talk to those people closest to you. Discuss the instructions with your family, your doctor, and other appropriate people. These are the people who will be involved with your health care if you are unable to make your own decisions.

When do advance directives go into effect?

Directives go into effect when you can no longer make your own health care decisions. As long as you are able to give 'informed consent,' your health care providers will rely on you and not on your advance directives.

What is informed consent?

Informed consent means that you are able to understand the nature and probable consequences of medical treatments and are able to make evaluations of the risks and possible benefits of those treatments as compared with alternatives.

How will my health care providers know I have an advance directive?

Upon admission you will be asked if you have an advance directive. If you answer "yes," you will be asked to present it to the hospital to become part of your medical record while you are a patient. It is your responsibility to communicate the fact that you have these documents to your physician and significant others.

Download these helpful advance directive cards to keep in your wallet or purse. They will tell first responders and family members where to find a copy of your advance directive.

Can I change my mind after I write an advance directive?

Yes. You can cancel or change any advance directive that you have written by destroying the original document. Tell anyone concerned that you have cancelled the advance directive. To change your advance directive write and date a new one. Give copies of your revised document to all the appropriate parties, including your doctor.

Do I need a lawyer to help me make an advance directive?

There is no legal requirement to contact a lawyer, although a lawyer may be helpful to you. You may use this form to execute your advance directives.

What if I have questions regarding completion of my advance directive?

If you have questions or need assistance completing your Advanced Directives, please call 301-790-8271.

Click here for additional resources on Advance Directives.