Equal Rights for Hospital Visitation

The policies of NASW have clearly and consistently stated the profession’s commitment towards ensuring that all local, state, federal, and international policies and/or legislation ban all forms of discrimination, including those based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, age, disability, and/or relationship or familial status.

Therefore, NASW was pleased when President Obama issued a memorandumthat outlines new rules for hospital visitation on April 15.  The memorandum bars publically funded hospitals from denying visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, which directly speaks to the practice standards of the social work profession.

The memorandum states that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will disseminate rules for hospitals that receive Medicaid or Medicare funds to require them to respect the rights of patients to designate visitors.  In addition, the President directed HHS to report back to him in 180 days with additional recommendations about actions it can take to address hospital visitation, medical decision-making and other health care issues that affect LGBT patients and their families.  To read the entire memorandum, go to:


To learn more about human rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues, go to:  http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/intl/issues/gender.asp#rights

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