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Healthcare Equality Index: Sample Visitation Policies

The second of the Core Four criteria, equal visitation, requires inpatient healthcare organizations to implement and document a visitation policy that explicitly guarantees equal visitation to LGBT patients and their visitors.

The following excerpts form healthcare organizations' visitation policies meet this requirement in one of three ways:

  1. Prohibiting discrimination in visitation based on sexual orientation or gender identity
  2. Including (or make direct reference to) an explicitly LGBT-inclusive definition of “family”
  3. Making an explicit reference to equal visitation for same-sex couples and same-sex parents
     

Prohibiting discrimination in visitation based on sexual orientation or gender identity

Within Policy Statement

  • All hospitalized patients have the right to have visitors of their choice during their stay, unless visitation interferes with the well-being, rights or safety of others, or is not medically indicated in the patient’s care.  HOSPITAL will not deny visitation privileges based on race, religion, ethnicity, language, culture, size, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, socioeconomic status, physical or mental ability or disability.  Patients will be informed of these rights upon admission to the hospital.
  • HOSPITAL has established the following guidelines for visiting, recognizing the role of family members and visitors in supporting and promoting the well being of patients, and to assist staff in their efforts to provide care in an environment of dignity compassion and respect. HOSPITAL does not restrict, limit, or otherwise deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or disability.
  • HOSPITAL promotes and supports a patient and family centered approach to care delivered in a context sensitive to the importance of relationships. The purpose of this policy is to define and set expectations regarding persons visiting hospitalized patients and to recognize our commitment to provide visitation in accordance with our non-discrimination policy, which provides access without regard to race, color, sex, national origin, disability, age, religion, marital status, citizenship, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and/or other legally protected classification. It also provides a mechanism to issue identification to authorized individuals visiting a patient.

Within Policy Guidance

  • Patients may receive visits from visitors of their choice. Patients also have the right to withdraw or deny consent to visitation at any time. Patients who lack capacity may receive visits from family, friends and other individuals, consistent with the non-discrimination provisions of this paragraph. HOSPITAL is committed to ensuring that all visitors enjoy full and equal visitation privileges consistent with patient preferences. HOSPITAL does not restrict, limit, or otherwise deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.

Including (or make direct reference to) an explicitly LGBT-inclusive definition of “family”

  • For purposes of hospital-wide visitation policy:  “Family” means any person(s) who plays a significant role in an individual’s life. This may include a person(s) not legally related to the individual. Members of “family” include spouses, domestic partners, partners in civil union and both different-sex and same-sex significant others. “Family” includes a minor patient’s parents, regardless of the gender of either parent. Solely for purposes of visitation policy, the concept of parenthood is to be liberally construed without limitation as encompassing legal parents, foster parents, same-sex parent, step-parents, those serving in loco parentis, and other persons operating in caretaker roles.
  • See LGBT-Inclusive Definition of Family for more information

Making an explicit reference to equal visitation for same-sex couples and same-sex parents

Within Policy Guidance - Reference to Patients’ Rights Statement

  • As stated in the patient rights and responsibilities, hospitalized patients have the right to:
    • A support person of their choice to remain with them during their hospital stay.
    • Receive or deny visitors as designated by the patient or their representative, including, but not limited to a spouse/civil union partner, domestic partner, family member, friend or legal representative.
    • Withdraw or deny consent to all or specific visitors at any time during their stay.

Within Policy Guidance - Who May Be Designated As Visitor or Family/Support Person

  • Visitors may include, but are not limited to, spouses, domestic partners, both different-sex and same-sex significant others, both different-sex and same-sex parents, other family members, friends, and persons from a patient’s community.
  • A designated family/support person may be present to support the patient during their hospital stay. A support person may include but not be limited to a spouse, adult child, parent, close relative, friend, domestic partner, and both different and same sex significant others. A support person is welcome to stay at any time  depending on patient’s need for medical care/treatments, rest, privacy, safety and patient preference. This definition may include a person (s) not legally related to the patient. This person (s) is often referred to as a surrogate decision maker or health care proxy if authorized to make health care decisions for the patient should he or she lose decision making capacity.  More specifically, family means any person(s) who plays a significant role in an individual’s life. This may include a person (s) not legally related to the individual.  Members of “family” includes spouses, domestic partners, and both different sex and same sex significant others. “Family” includes a minor patient’s parents, regardless of the gender of either parent.  Solely for the purposes of visitation policy, the concept of parenthood is to be liberally constructed without limitation as encompassing legal parents, foster parents, same sex parent, step parent, those serving in loco parentis and other persons operating in caretaker roles. ed to make health care decisions for the patient should he or she lose decision making capacity.

Within Policy Guidance - Definitions

  • Definitions:
    • Support Person: Any person who is present to support the patient during their hospital stay, including but not limited to a spouse, adult child, parent, close relative, friend, domestic partner, and both different sex and same sex significant others. Does not require that the person be legally related to the patient.
    • Parent: May include person with legal custody, foster parent, same sex parent or step-parent, regardless of gender. May also include persons in a primary caretaker role.

Within Policy Guidance - Visiting Hours

  • Pediatrics: Parents can visit 24 hours a day. Solely for purposes of this visitation policy, the concept of “parent” is to be liberally construed as encompassing legal parents, foster parents, same-sex parents, step-parents, those serving in loco parentis, and other persons operating in caretaker roles.