The Brattleboro Retreat will honor the rights of patients and their families including guardians or others who have a significant relationship with the patient. The patient's right to treatment or services is respected and supported.

The Brattleboro Retreat will advise patients of their rights and what is expected of them, and will work to help correct problems, and answer complaints (or grievances) that may arise concerning the care of the patient. Each patient will receive a written statement of his or her rights upon admission.

Statements of patient rights and responsibilities are also posted throughout the organization and are available for all others upon request at Access and Evaluation.

As a patient you have the right to:

1. Have reasonable access to care or protective services and a reasonable response to your request for any service that the hospital is able to provide, including pastoral care or counseling or other spiritual services.

2. A patient has the right to be accorded impartial access to treatment or accommodations that are available or medically indicated, regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or sources of payment for care.

3. Expect that your requests will be honored, including the right to utilize a decision-maker of your choice when or if you are unable to understand or communicate your wishes.

4. Know the name and professional status of individuals providing services to you and to know by name an attending physician who is responsible for coordinating or primarily responsible for your care.

5. Know about your illness and participate in the decisions that affect your health and well being, obtain complete and current information about your diagnosis, the planned course of treatment, and the prognosis (or medical outlook), in terms you can understand.

6. Benefit from every consideration of privacy concerning the patient’s own medical care program. Case discussion, consultation, examination, and treatment are confidential and shall be conducted discreetly. Those not directly involved in the patient’s care must have the permission of the patient to be present. This right includes the right, upon request, to have a person of one’s own sex present during certain parts of a physical examination, treatment, or procedure performed by a health care professional of the opposite sex; and the right not to remain disrobed any longer than is required for accomplishing the medical purpose for which the patient was asked to disrobe. The patient has the right to wear appropriate personal clothing and religious or other symbolic items so long as they do not interfere with diagnostic procedures or treatment.

7. Receive from your physician or other health care practitioner, except in emergencies, information necessary to give informed consent prior to the start of any procedure or treatment and know the name of the person responsible for the procedure or treatment. Such information should include the specific procedure or treatment to be performed; the medically significant risks and benefits associated with a recommended treatment or test; the likely impact and length of time you would be laid up; the medically significant alternatives for care or treatment when they exist; and the risks and benefits associated with no treatment at all.

8. Expect that within its capacity a hospital shall respond reasonably to the request of a patient for services. The right shall include if physically possible a transfer to another room or place if another person in that room or place is disturbing the patient by any unreasonable actions. When medically permissible a patient may be transferred to another facility only after receiving complete information and explanation concerning the needs for and alternatives to such a transfer. The institution to which the patient is to be transferred must first have accepted the patient for transfer.

9. Refuse treatment to the extent that the law allows and be informed of the medical impact of that refusal. You have the right to leave the hospital, even if your doctor advises against it, unless you are incapable of maintaining your own or other people’s safety as defined by law. The hospital shall be relieved of responsibility for any harm that comes to you as a result of refusal of treatment or leaving against medical advice.

10. Expect reasonable privacy and confidentiality of your medical care program and records. People not directly involved in your care must have your permission to be present when care is being given. Certain conditions, such as cases of some communicable diseases, industrial diseases or accidents, and suspected cases of child or elder abuse, must by law be reported to appropriate state agencies, even without a patient’s authorization. In some cases involving potential liability, the medical center may disclose information in medical records to its own attorneys and agents.

11. Expect reasonable continuity of care. The patient has the right to be informed by the attending physician of any continuing health care requirements following discharge.

12. Be advised if the hospital proposes to engage in or perform human experimentation affecting your care or treatment. You can volunteer but cannot be required to take part in clinical training programs or in research studies.

13. Be informed by the attending physician of any continuing health care requirements following discharge.

14. Receive a bill when you leave that is itemized, detailed, and understandable.

15. Know what hospital rules and regulations apply to your conduct as a patient.

16. Visits by family and significant others and a private place to visit; per the Brattleboro Retreat Visitor’s policy:

  • Each patient (or support person, where appropriate) will be informed at admission of his or her visitation rights, including any clinical restriction or limitation on such rights.
  • Each patient (or support person, where appropriate) will be informed of the right, subject to his or her consent, to receive the visitors whom he or she designates, including but not limited to a spouse, a domestic partner (including a same-sex domestic partner), another family member, or a friend, and of his or her right to withdraw or deny such consent to visitation at any time.
  • The Brattleboro Retreat will not restrict, limit, or otherwise deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.


17. Have reasonable access to send and receive unopened, uncensored mail.

18. Have reasonable access to make and receive telephone calls.

19. Request an outside consultant at personal expense.

20. Expect reasonable safety in so far as the hospital practices and environment are concerned.

21. Have family members or other persons you choose participate in decisions about your care. Patients may enter into a “Reciprocal Beneficiaries Relationship” in Vermont, which grants certain benefits and protections, along with certain responsibilities, to spouses in a marriage or civil union. A patient’s Reciprocal Beneficiary shall be recognized and included as a participant in the patient’s health care decision-making process.

23. Talk about your illness and care to anyone you want.

23. Have an interpreter if a language barrier or hearing impairment presents a problem to your understanding of the care and treatment being provided.

24. Whenever possible, guardians or parents have the right to stay with their children 24 hours per day.

25. Whenever possible, agents, guardians, reciprocal beneficiaries or immediate families have the right to stay with terminally ill patients 24 hours a day.

26. Have the right to receive professional assessment of pain and professional pain management.

27. Have the right to know the maximum patient census and the full-time equivalent numbers of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and licensed nursing assistants who provide direct care for each shift on the unit where the patient is receiving care.

28. Have a Hospice Companionship and Support Volunteer or Bereavement Care Coordinator if you have received a prognosis of a year or less to live and receive palliative care (pain control) by contacting Brattleboro Area Hospice, 191 Canal Street, Brattleboro, Vermont or by calling Phone: 802-257-0775, Fax: 802-254-8652 or Toll Free: 800-579-7300.

29. File a written or verbal complaint (or grievance) with the hospital (see Grievance Procedure) regarding your care and treatment and have your grievance reviewed. If you have concerns that you wish to discuss, you should notify your physician, nurse or Brattleboro Retreat’s Patient Advocate at (802) 258-6118.

30. Pursuant to 26 V.S.A. §1852(c), a patient, family member and/or guardian may also make a complaint about the hospital to Vermont state agencies. A patient has the right to contact them whether or not they have complained to the hospital first.

Complaints about the hospital:

  • Department of Mental Health
    280 State Drive NOB 2 North
    Waterbury, VT 05671-2010
  • Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging & Independent Living,
    Division of Licensing and Protection
    HC2 South, 280 State Drive
    Waterbury, VT 05671-2060
    802-241-0480 Fax: 802-241-0343
  • Vermont Department of Health
    108 Cherry Street
    Burlington, VT 05402
  • Green Mountain Care Board
    89 Main Street, Third Floor, City Center
    Montpelier, VT 05620
  • Vermont Board of Medical Practice
    P.O. Box 70
    Burlington, VT 05402-0070
    1-800-745-7371 (toll free in Vermont) or 802-657-4220
  • Disability Rights Vermont
    141 Main St., Suite 7
    Montpelier, VT 05602
  • The Joint Commission
    One Renaissance Blvd.
    Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
  • Department of Financial Regulation
    89 Main Street
    Montpelier, VT 05620
  • Department for Children and Families,
    Consumer Concerns Team
    280 State Drive HC 1 North
    Waterbury, VT 05671-1080


Survey and Certification Intake/Complaint:


Complaints about a physician:

  • The Vermont Board of Medical Practice
    P.O. Box 70
    Burlington, VT 05402-0070
    1-800-745-7371 (toll free in Vermont)or 802-657-4220


As a patient in this hospital, you have the responsibility to:

  • Be considerate of other patients by respecting their privacy and limiting your visitors.
  • Observe safety regulations, including smoking and weapons policies.
  • Supply accurate information to appropriate personnel and report unexpected changes in your condition to your doctor.
  • Ask questions if instructions are unclear.
  • Participate in your treatment plan as recommended by your healthcare team.
  • Assure that the financial obligations of your healthcare are fulfilled as promptly as possible.


If you have any questions about your rights and responsibilities, ask your doctor, nurse, social worker, case manager, or other hospital representative.

Revised/updated May 15, 2017.