Emergency Department Patient Rights and Responsibilities

Originally approved January 2024


The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) believes that all emergency department (ED) patients should receive compassionate and quality emergency medical care. This Bill of Rights applies to every ED patient. The critical environment of the ED and patient capacity may require limitations of these rights.

Emergency department patients have the right to:

  • quality emergency medical care
  • receive a medical screening examination
  • stabilization of emergency medical conditions
  • respect and courtesy
  • privacy and confidentiality
  • participate in their own care, including shared decision making, informed consent, and advance care planning
  • decline medical treatment
  • be informed of the roles of physicians, nurses, and others involved in their care
  • be free from discrimination, mental, physical, sexual, and verbal abuse, neglect, and exploitation
  • receive reasonable accommodations for religious and cultural practices, disabilities, and language
  • consent to or decline participation in research studies
  • be informed of available resources for resolving disputes, grievances, and conflicts, such as ombudsman, ethics committees, or patient representatives

Emergency department patients have the responsibility to:

  • act with courtesy and respect to staff, patients, and visitors
  • participate in communication and decision making
  • comply with reasonable medical care and perform self-care
  • respect other patients’ privacy and confidentiality
  • respect boundaries set for safety by staff
  • be respectful and considerate of other patients, staff, and property
  • never exhibit threatening, violent, abusive, or discriminatory speech or  behavior
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