Points To Know Regarding Your Rights While You Are A Patient In A DMH Hospital or Other In-Patient Facility

  • You have a right to be informed regarding your rights.
  • You have a right to be informed regarding methods for resolving possible violations of your rights.
  • You may seek advice and assistance from the Client Advocacy Program.  The telephone number is posted on your ward.
  • You may contact an attorney of your choice.
  • You may review the complete manual on patient rights located in your facility library and on your ward.
  • You are entitled to a safe and humane environment.
  • You have a right to as much freedom of movement as possible.  This right may be limited only when it is necessary for the protection of yourself, others, and the community.
  • You may spend your own money, wear your own clothes, and keep personal possessions within established limits.
  • You have a right to communicate by sealed mail and telephone and receive visitors of your choice .  Any restriction of these rights must be ordered by your physician and documented in your record.
  • You have a right to recognized psychiatric and medical treatment.  This right includes receiving information regarding risks, side effects, and anticipated benefits of all medication and treatment.  You have the right to the appropriate assessment and management of pain.
  • You have a right to participate in the formulation of your treatment plan and to know the names of the staff members responsible for your care.
  • You have a right to refuse participation in any research project and to refuse non-standard psychiatric treatment.
  • You have a right to know the cost of your treatment and to know the source of any assistance available in meeting these expenses.
  • Any work that you do at the hospital must be part of your treatment plan and designed for your benefit.  If you do accept a work assignment, you will be paid.   You may refuse to work for the hospital.
  • You have a right to worship in the faith of your choice as long as you do not cause harm to yourself or infringe on the rights of others.
  • You have a right to have all information concerning your hospitalization kept confidential except when State law permits disclosure.
  • If the hospital should consider it necessary to search your belongings for any reason, you have a right to be present.
  • You have a right for planned recreational activities to be available.   You also have a right to some unplanned leisure time.
  • Unless you have been declared incompetent by a court of law, you may exercise   all legal and civil rights, such as disposing of property, voting, marrying, and divorcing.
  • You may report any suspected abuse or neglect of patients without fear of reprisal.
  • You may petition the court to review the appropriateness of your confinement.
  • In exercising your rights, you may  not infringe on the rights of others.  You also have certain basic responsibilities and you have a right to know what is expected of you.

Patient Responsibilities

  • Realize that living with a group of people is different from living at home and try to get along with other people on the wards.
  • Ask questions when you don't understand what is happening to you.
  • Let a member of the staff know when you have a problem or feel sick.
  • Take part in planning for and participating in your therapy and treatment program and discharge planning, and provide information concerning your medical history.
  • Attend scheduled activities and keep appointments.
  • Help take care of  and clean up your living area.
  • Show respect for the property and rights of others.
  • Take care of the hospital property and your own clothing and personal things.
  • Keep yourself clean and dressed (insofar as you are physically able.)
  • Obey the laws which apply to all citizens.
  • Be familiar with and observe the rules and policies of your facility.
  • Accept responsibility for your actions.
  • Cooperate in the goal of achieving self sufficiency in the management of your every-day living.


At times, you may feel that there are certain restrictions or limitations to some of your rights.  You have a right to ask and to be told why these restrictions exist and what you can do to remove them and to avoid them in the future.

If you feel that your rights are being violated, you should talk to a treatment team member.  If you are unable to get the matter resolved you may register a complaint with the Patient Advocacy Program.

Written by George P. Gintoli, former Director of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health
July 2001