Find VA policies on privacy and patient rights, family rights, visitation, and more.
Privacy and patient rights
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
VA general visitation policy
The medical center respects the patient's right to make decisions about his or her care, treatment and services, and to involve the patient's family in care, treatment, and services decisions to the extent permitted by the patient or surrogate decision-maker.
"Family" is defined as a group of two or more persons united by blood, or adoptive, marital, domestic partnership, or other legal ties. The family may also be a person or persons not legally related to the individual (such as significant other, friend or caregiver) whom the individual considers to be family. A family member may be the surrogate decision-maker, as defined in VHA Handbook 1004.02, if authorized to make care decisions for the individual, should he or she lose decision-making capacity or choose to delegate decision making to another.
The medical center allows a family member, friend or other individual to be present with the patient for emotional support during the course of their stay. The medical center allows for the presence of a support individual of the patient's choice, unless the individual's presence infringes on others’ rights or safety, or is medically or therapeutically contraindicated. The individual may or may not be the patient's surrogate decision-maker or legally authorized representative.
The hospital prohibits discrimination based on age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, language, physical or mental disability, socioeconomic status, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.
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.
Report patient quality of care concerns
Visit the Joint Commission page to report concerns you have about the quality of patient care.