NC RULES ON HOSPITAL VISITATION

Equality NC drew attention this week to North Carolina’s Rules on Hospital Visitation for Samesex Couples. See below:

State Rules

In 2008, Equality NC secured a statewide provision helping ensure that same-sex partners and other loved ones would be treated the same as immediate family. With passage of this statewide provision, North Carolina hospital patients have the right to receive the visitors who matter most to them regardless of the legal status of their relationship.

The provision – added to the Patients’ Bill of Rights – states: “A patient has the right to designate visitors who shall receive the same visitation privileges as the patient’s immediate family members, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patient.” The right applies to hospitals statewide.

In 2007, Equality NC Foundation petitioned the state to add this provision to the Patient’s Bill of Rights, and tirelessly advocated for the change through the rule-making process. The Medical Care Commission unanimously approved the rule at its February 2008 meeting and the Rules Review Commission gave final approval, allowing the rule to take effect on May 1, 2008.

CLICK HERE TO READ AND PRINT North Carolina’s PATIENT BILL OF RIGHTS (includes: “(25) A patient has the right to designate visitors who shall receive the same visitation privileges as the patient’s immediate family members, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patient.”)

IMPORTANT: Same-sex couples should be aware that this policy *only covers visitation.* In order to ensure that same-sex partners have the ability to make medical decisions in the event a partner is incapacitated, it is still vita to complete health care powers of attorney.

Without a valid health care power of attorney, decision-making authority will go to the patient’s nearest legal relative, as same-sex relationships receive no recognition under North Carolina law.

Federal Rules

In 2010, the Obama Administration, through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), issued guidelines requiring all hospitals receiving Medicaid and Medicare funding — nearly every hospital in the country — to adopt visitation policies similar to those we have in place in North Carolina, allowing for visitation in the hospital for same sex couples on an equal footing with straight couples.

The memo quoted the hospital visitation provision of the North Carolina Hospital Patients’ Bill of Rights which Equality NC proposed and got adopted by the state in 2008.

The Presidential Memorandum stated:

Many States have taken steps to try to put an end to these problems. North Carolina recently amended its Patients’ Bill of Rights to give each patient “the right to designate visitors who shall receive the same visitation privileges as the patient’s immediate family members, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patient” — a right that applies in every hospital in the State. Delaware, Nebraska, and Minnesota have adopted similar laws.

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