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Mental Illness Guide: Care, Support, and Education
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What rights do I have in the hospital?

Rights that can never be taken away

The following rights can never be taken away from you, no matter what caused you to be hospitalized.†

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Right to dignity, privacy, and humane care.

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Unless a court orders a specific right be taken away, you have all the same civil rights as anyone else.†

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Right to see an advocate to help you enforce your rights.†

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Right to see a lawyer in private at any time.†

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Right to make complaints and have them heard and addressed quickly.††

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Right to practice the religion of your choice.††

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Right to help decide on your treatment plan.†

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Right to get your treatment in a way that limits you the least, so that you can be as independent as possible.† For example, the right to receive the lowest dose of medication necessary to relieve your symptoms, and the right not to be restricted to a certain area on the unit unless it is to protect your safety and the safety of other patients.

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Right to leave the facility as soon as you no longer need hospital care and treatment.†

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Right to not be treated harshly or in an unusual manner.†

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Right to have your treatment explained to you in a way that you understand.†

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Right to refuse psychosurgery.†

Rights that can only be taken away by court order

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Right to handle your personal affairs, such as having a driverís license, getting married, getting a divorce, writing a will.

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Right to understand what a treatment is and why you need it before you agree to have the treatment.† This includes the right to refuse medication, unless it is an emergency, or unless you cannot decide for yourself to refuse medication.††

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Right to refuse medications or shock treatment.††

Rights that can be taken away if you are judged by hospital staff to be at risk

The doctor or hospital staff can take away the following rights if they believe these rights put your safety, or the safety of others, at risk.

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Right to keep and use personal items, such as toiletries, picture frames, jewelry, etc., unless these items would pose a threat to your health and welfare.

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Right to have the reason you may not use an item explained to you.

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Right to have visitors if those visitors would make it unsafe for you and the other patients.†††

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Right to use the telephone. 

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Right to mail and get unopened letters and correspondence.†

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Right to letter writing materials, including stamps.†