Designated Support Person for People With Disabilities: Patient Rights

If you're a person with a disability who needs a support person to help you with daily tasks, state law says you're allowed to have your support person with you while you're getting healthcare.

In fact, if the healthcare you're getting is going to take longer than a day (24 hours), you can designate more than 1 support person, and they can stay with you at different times throughout your care.

This law doesn't apply to long-term acute care and specialty rehabilitation facilties.

Who is considered a person with a disability?

For purposes of the law, a "person with a disability" means someone who, before being admitted to a medical facility, had a physical, sensory, mental, or emotional impairment that substantially limits one or more activities of daily living, or has a record of such impairment.

"Activity of daily living" means a personal care task like bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, and eating or feeding.

Can a hospital, ambulatory surgical center, or hospice facility limit access to designated support persons under its visitation policies?

For purposes of the law, "designated support persons" aren't considered the same as visitors. So, they aren't subject to any visitor restrictions adopted by a medical care facility.

However, designated support persons may be required to follow any rules or regulations in place to protect the health and safety of patients, the designated support person, staff, and visitors. Also, the designated support person may not be able to enter into specified areas of the facility, such as an operating room. Movement around the premises may be limited where needed to protect health and safety.

If you have questions about the specific requirements that apply to designated support persons, ask your medical care facility.

Where can I find more information about the rights of a person with a disability to be accompanied by a designated support person?

If you have questions or need more information about your right have a designated support person with you, ask your medical care facility. They'll provide you with specific information on any policies related to designated support persons.

The medical care facility is also required to post information about the rights of patients to be accompanied by a designated support person on their website.