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SF Health Network
Patient Relations

Patient Advocate

The SFGH Patient Advocate Office is a place to share your complements or concerns about your experience at San Francisco General Hospital. A patient advocate is available to listen and talk with you from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Stop by the office located in the outpatient lobby of the main hospital or call (415) 206-5176.



The purpose of this policy is to list and describe the rights and responsibilities of the patient/client at San Francisco General Hospital Medical & Trauma Center (SFGH).

Statement of Policy

In accordance with the State of California Department of Health Services, Title 22 requirements for patients, Joint Commission standards, Medi-Care Conditions of Participation, and other federal guidelines, it is the policy of San Francisco General Hospital Medical & Trauma Center (SFGH) that employees and medical staff ensure the rights and acknowledge the responsibilities of patients. These patient rights also apply to the person who may have legal responsibility to make decisions regarding medical care on behalf of the patient. Please contact the Patient Care Advocate at (415) 206-5176.

Patients shall have the right to:

  • Considerate and respectful care, and to be made comfortable. You have the right to be respected for your personal values and beliefs.
  • Have a family member (or other representative of your choosing) and your own physician notified promptly of your admission to the hospital.
  • Know the name of the physician who has primary responsibility for coordinating your care and the names and professional relationships of other physicians and non-physicians who will see you.
  • Receive information about your health status, course of treatment and prospects for recovery in terms you can understand.
  • Participate in the development and implementation of your plan of care.
  • Participate in ethical questions that arise in the course of your care, including issues of conflict resolution, withholding resuscitative services, and forgoing or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment.
  • Make decisions regarding medical care, and receive as much information about any proposed treatment or procedure as you may need in order to give informed consent or to refuse a course of treatment. Except in emergencies, this information shall include a description of the procedure or treatment, the medically significant risks involved, alternate courses of treatment or non-treatment and the risks involved in each, and the name of the person who will carry out the procedure or treatment.
  • Request or refuse treatment, to the extent permitted by law. However, you do not have the right to demand inappropriate or medically unnecessary treatment or services.
  • Leave the hospital even against the advice of physicians, to the extent permitted by law.
  • Be advised if the hospital/personal physician proposes to engage in or perform human experimentation affecting your care or treatment. You have the right to refuse to participate in such research projects.
  • Reasonable responses to any reasonable requests made for service.
  • Request or reject the use of any or all modalities to relieve pain, including opiate medication, if you suffer from sever chronic intractable pain. The doctor may refuse to prescribe the opiate medication, but if so, must inform you that there are physicians who specialize in the treatment of severe chronic intractable pain with methods that include the use of opiates.
  • Formulate advance directives. This includes designating a decision maker if you become incapable of understanding a proposed treatment or become unable to communicate your wishes regarding care. Hospital staff and practitioners who provide care in the hospital shall comply with these directives. All patient rights apply to the person who has legal responsibility to make decisions regarding medical care on your behalf.
  • Have personal privacy respected. Case discussion, consultation, examination and treatment are confidential and should be conducted discreetly. You have the right to be told the reason for the presence of any individual. You have the right to have visitors leave prior to an examination and when treatment issues are being discussed. Privacy curtains will be used in semi-private rooms.
  • Confidential treatment of all communications and records pertaining to your care and stay in the hospital. Basic information may be released to the public, unless specifically prohibited in writing by you. Written permission shall be obtained before medical records are made available to anyone not directly concerned with your care, except as otherwise may be required or permitted by law.
  • Access information contained in your records within a reasonable time frame, except in certain circumstances specified by law.
  • Receive care in a safe setting, free from verbal or physical abuse or harassment. You have the right to access protective services including notifying government agencies of neglect or abuse.
  • Be free from restraints and seclusion of any form used as a means of coercion, discipline, convenience, or retaliation by staff.
  • Reasonable continuity of care and to know in advance the time and location of appointment as well as the identity of the persons providing care.
  • Be informed by the physician, or a delegate of the physician, of continuing health care requirements following discharge from the hospital.
  • Know which hospital rules and policies apply to your conduct while a patient.
  • Designate visitors of your choosing, if you have decision - making capacity, whether or not the visitor is related by blood or marriage, unless:
    • No visitors are allowed.
    • The facility reasonably determines that the presence of a particular visitor would endanger the health or safety of the patient, a member of the health facility staff, or other visitor to the health facility, or would significantly disrupt the operations of the facility.
    • You have told the health facility staff that you no longer want a particular person to visit.
    • However, a health facility may establish reasonable restrictions upon visitation, including restrictions upon the hours of visitation and number of visitors.
    • Have your wishes considered, if you lack decision-making capacity, for the purposes of determining who may visit. The method of that consideration will be disclosed in the hospital policy on visitation. At a minimum, the hospital shall include any persons living in your household.
  • Examine and receive an explanation of the hospital's bill regardless of the source of payment.
  • Exercise these rights without regard to sex, economic status, educational background, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation or marital status, or the source of payment for care.
  • File a grievance and/or file a complaint with the state Department of Health Services and/or the hospital and be informed of the action plan.

Patients shall be responsible for:

  • Provision of Information.
  • Providing, to the best of his/her knowledge, accurate and complete information about his/her place of residence, present complaints, past illnesses, changes in his/her medical condition, hospitalizations, medications, and other matters relating to his/her health, including perceived risks in their care.
  • Reporting whether he/she clearly comprehends a contemplated course of action and what is expected of him/her.
  • Compliance with Instructions.
  • Following the treatment plan recommended by the health care provider primarily responsible for his/her care. This may include following the instructions of nurses and other allied health personnel as they implement the coordinated plan of care and enforce the applicable SFGH rules and regulations.
  • Respect and Consideration.
  • Being considerate of the rights of other patients and SFGH employees and for assisting in the control of noise and number of visitors.
  • Respecting the property of other persons and of SFGH.
  • Since SFGH is a smoke-free environment, patients must respect the rule prohibiting smoking.
  • Hospital Rules and Regulations.
  • Following SFGH rules and regulations which are detailed in the "Patient Handbook" and include matters pertaining to patient care, conduct, operations, and security.
  • Accepting the consequences of their own decisions and actions.


Do NOT email the Community Health Network if you wish to inquire about ANY medical situation or problem. Instead, please call San Francisco General Hospital at 415-206-8000 

Any email question may not be read right away. For issues or questions other than medically related, you may email the Community Health Network