Hospitals need updated visitation policies, staff training

Following revised Medicare's Conditions of Participation and The Joint Commission's rules on visitation rights, all Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals, including critical access hospitals, must meet the new inclusive requirements by updating policies and training staff. The American Health Lawyers Association and the Human Rights Campaign released an issue brief on meeting visitation requirements, in which patients can choose who visits them regardless of whether the visitor is a family member, spouse, domestic partner or any other visitor, as well as enabling the patient's right to choose a representative to act on his or her behalf. Effective Jan. 18, 2011, Medicare-participating hospitals must write visitation policies and procedures, and Joint Commission-accredited hospitals, as of July 2011, must allow the patient's selected individual visit during the course of the stay, unless it is medically contraindicated.

"Although many hospitals have already adopted more inclusive and patient friendly policies, the new Medicare CoPs and Joint Commission Standards are the first federal protections for LGBT patients and their families," the joint issue brief noted. Guidelines (.pdf)