Be Your Own Health Advocate

Your Rights

You are the driver of your own pregnancy. You have the right to make decisions and request accommodations that you feel are best for you.

Clinicians may not always explain things clearly. Do not be afraid to ask questions until you receive an answer that you can understand. If you have a question about your diagnosis, a test or a medication which you have been prescribed, continue to ask questions until you are satisfied by the answer you have received. Do not be afraid to seek a second opinion. Remember, you are the center of your care team.

Don’t let anyone take away your right to equitable care. As a patient in a hospital in New York State, you have the right, consistent with law, to:

  1. Understand and use these rights. If for any reason you do not understand or you need help, the hospital MUST provide assistance, including an interpreter.
  2. Receive treatment without discrimination as to race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, age or source of payment.
  3. Receive considerate and respectful care in a clean and safe environment free of unnecessary restraints.
  4. Receive emergency care if you need it.
  5. Be informed of the name and position of the doctor who will be in charge of your care in the hospital.
  6. Know the names, positions and functions of any hospital staff involved in your care and refuse their treatment, examination or observation.
  7. Identify a caregiver who will be included in your discharge planning and sharing of post-discharge care information or instruction.
  8. Receive complete information about your diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.
  9. Receive all the information that you need to give informed consent for any proposed procedure or treatment. This information shall include the possible risks and benefits of the procedure or treatment.
  10. Receive all the information you need to give informed consent for an order not to resuscitate. You also have the right to designate an individual to give this consent for you if you are too ill to do so. If you would like additional information, please ask for a copy of the pamphlet “Deciding About Health Care – A Guide for Patients and Families.”
  11. Refuse treatment and be told what effect this may have on your health.
  12. Refuse to take part in research. In deciding whether or not to participate, you have the right to a full explanation.
  13. Privacy while in the hospital and confidentiality of all information and records regarding your care.
  14. Participate in all decisions about your treatment and discharge from the hospital. The hospital must provide you with a written discharge plan and written description of how you can appeal your discharge.
  15. Review your medical record without charge and obtain a copy of your medical record for which the hospital can charge a reasonable fee. You cannot be denied a copy solely because you cannot afford to pay.
  16. Receive an itemized bill and explanation of all charges.
  17. View a list of the hospital’s standard charges for items and services and the health plans the hospital participates with.
  18. Challenge an unexpected bill through the Independent Dispute Resolution process.
  19. Complain without fear of reprisals about the care and services you are receiving and to have the hospital respond to you and if you request it, a written response. If you are not satisfied with the hospital’s response, you can complain to the New York State Health Department. The hospital must provide you with the State Health Department telephone number.
  20. Authorize those family members and other adults who will be given priority to visit consistent with your ability to receive visitors.

Statistically, Black and Latinx groups can experience higher maternal mortality and morbidity. But it doesn’t have to be this way. For more information on your rights as a birthing person of color, you can also reference the Black Birthing Bill of Rights. You have the right to advocate for a safe and comfortable space to give birth and care for you and your child. Let your care team know who you want to be by your side during childbirth. This is a moment when you might want the people in your life who can encourage and support you to make the moment truly special.


Your Birth Plan

It’s important to remember that every single childbirth is distinctly different—no one approach works for everyone. However, before childbirth, you can take some steps to prepare for labor by making a plan and talking with your provider. You should be open to changes to the plan based on changes in circumstances to ensure the safest birth of the parent and child.

A birth plan is an outline of the birth experience you want based on your expectations and desires. Every birth plan is different but can include who you want in the room with you, if you prefer a natural birth with no pain medication, what scents you want near, what procedures you do and don’t want, and even what music you want played during labor. Remember to share your birth plan with your provider so they’re aware of your desires and can help adjust any expectations where necessary.

It is also important to ask your provider to review all pain management methods, like intravenous (through your vein) medications and epidurals (a type of anesthesia), as you enter your third trimester so you have the information you need to make an informed birth plan and so you can avoid surprises and/or any intimidating or new procedures during labor and birth.


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