Skip to Content
Your browser is out of date. To use this website, please update your browser or use a different device.
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government


Find VA policies on privacy and patient rights, family rights, visitation, and more.

Privacy and patient rights

Read VA's national privacy and patient rights policies

Family rights

Read VA's national family rights policy

Visitation policy

Before visiting a patient at a VA facility, review these guidelines: 

Visiting church members
If you are a member of the religious community, VA encourages you to visit patients who belong to your church or religious group. However, you are not allowed to do general visitation by going from bed to bed, ward to ward, or unit to unit. 

Bringing food
You may bring small amounts of candy, fruit, and other food items if the nursing staff has determined that these foods are appropriate for a patient's diet. You cannot bring fresh fruit and flowers to the Critical Care Center or eat (or drink) on the units.

Washing hands
You must follow hand hygiene policy guidelines, which require you to practice hand hygiene when you enter and exit patient rooms and at other times as directed by staff.

Following infection control guidelines
You must follow guidelines on infection control signs and should report to the nurses' station for instructions before you enter a patient's room.

Staying home if you are ill
If you have a communicable disease, you won't be allowed inside the medical center.

Prohibited items
You're not allowed to bring weapons, cameras, or other prohibited articles into the medical center, except when you're conducting official business authorized by the Director or designee. If you have questions about what qualifies as official business, please contact the facility's Director. 

Giving privacy
VA Staff may ask you to leave the room when they are caring for patients. If a staff member asks you to leave a patient's room, you may continue your visit in the day room, waiting area, or any other public area of the facility.

Visiting seriously ill patients
Seriously ill and hospice patients may have visits from relatives and friends at any time of day unless the staff physician determines otherwise.

Visiting patients in restraints
In general, you won't be allowed to visit patients who are in restraints. If the treatment team determines that your visit may have a positive effect on the patient, then you may have a supervised visit with the patient during a break from restraints. VA staff will document how the patient responds to you and other visitors. 

Bringing children to visit
Children of all ages can visit inpatients at the University and Heinz divisions. However, children under the ages of 16 are not allowed to visit the dialysis unit (for infection-control and safety reasons). All children under the age of 16 must be directly supervised by an adult. Children's bedside visits are limited to 15 minutes.

Visiting psychiatric units with children
Children under the age of 16 are allowed to visit patients in the psychiatric units at University Drive only with the physician's permission.

Advance directives

When faced with difficult decisions about health care, you may struggle with the question of "what should be done?" These resources can help you deal with tough decisions about health care and how to plan for it.

Health Care Ethics Resources for Veterans, Patients, and Families

VA Form 10-0137 - VA Advance Directive: Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Living Will (PDF)

What You Should Know about Advance Directives (PDF)

Report patient quality of care concerns

Visit the Joint Commission page to report concerns you have about the quality of patient care.

Last updated: