Know Your Health Care Rights

All people in Rhode Island, regardless of sexual orientation, have certain health care rights. Below are some links and helpful hints to exercising these rights and how to take action if you believe your rights have been violated.


Confidentiality Gay RightsWhen you discuss your sexual orientation with your doctor, you may also want to discuss confidentiality. The doctor records information about you in your medical record, or “chart.” Click here for more information about the privacy of your health records.

Theoretically, this information is confidential and cannot be released to anyone else without your permission. However, when you enroll in a health insurance plan, you are automatically giving the insurance company access to your medical records. They have a right to know what it is they are paying for.

If you have concerns about having sensitive information put in your medical record, it is important to discuss this with your health care provider during your visit.

Medical Records

filesWhat is recorded in patients’ medical record and how it is shared with others is governed under a number of federal, state, and institutional laws and regulations.

Here is a guide that spells out your rights as they relate to medical records

Treatment and Care

happydocThings are changing for the better; however, the medical profession has had a long, unfortunate history of homophobia. Good news happened in 1995 when the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted an official policy of nondiscrimination toward gay and lesbian physicians. The following year the AMA came out with a position paper on the health care needs of gay and lesbian patients.

In March, 1998, the Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry issued its final report, which included the Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. This report states that all patients have the right to considerate, respectful and nondiscriminatory care from doctors, health plan representatives, and other health care providers.

Here is a link to a Consumer Bill of Rights for patients

Affordable Care Act and Patient Rights

icon_medThe Affordable Care Act is being adopted by Rhode Island in 2013. Here is a link to more information for rights of all patients under the Affordable Care Act.

Taking Action and Filing a Complaint

If you have a specific concern about the quality of health care you received from a licensed health care professional in Rhode Island, you should visit the Rhode Island Department of Health website to learn how you can formally file a complaint.