At Boston Medical Center, we work hard to meet our patient’s expectations. However, at times we may not meet succeed in doing so. When this happens, we want to learn from the unique experiences of our patients and visitors, whether pleasant or unpleasant. We welcome your comments about your experience at Boston Medical Center and are here to help you resolve any issues that arise in a neutral and non-threatening way.

If you are experiencing an issue, we first recommend that you speak directly with the particular staff member or manager of the department in which the problem has occurred. If these attempts do not resolve the situation, or if you feel uncomfortable addressing your problem within the department, contact us and a Patient Advocate will be assigned to investigate your complaint.

All patients and their families have the right to file a complaint. And, doing so will not affect the care the patient receives at Boston Medical Center now, or in the future.

The Office of Patient Advocacy (OPA) is here to help you with:

  • Concerns about our services or employees
  • Concerns about the care you or a loved one are receiving
  • Compliments to our staff
  • Requests for information
  • Other concerns or comments

Our Process

You will be connected to a Patient Advocate who will ask for some information, including:

  • The nature of your complaint
  • Your name and the name of the patient
  • The patient’s medical record number or date of birth
  • The BMC department in which the problem has occurred
  • The name(s) of any staff member(s) involved
  • The date and time at which the problem occurred
  • A telephone number where we may reach you, or your department and room number if you are an inpatient
  • Your suggestions for how you would like a Patient Advocate to help

If you do not wish to identify yourself when speaking with a Patient Advocate, you may file your complaint anonymously. However, investigation and follow-up will be more difficult for the Patient Advocate because he or she will not be able to use specific information to address your concerns.

After gathering this information and speaking with you and/or your family to best understand your concerns, we will:

  • Contact and speak with the person(s) named in your complaint
  • Review all appropriate documents, including your medical record, if necessary
  • Collaborate with you to resolve the identified issue
  • Document your case in our database and inform the appropriate individuals about the determined resolution

Patient Rights & Responsibilities

Patient’s Bill of Rights

Your Care and Treatment

As a Boston Medical Center (BMC) patient you have the right to:

  • Polite, respectful treatment. BMC does not discriminate based on age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, language, physical or mental disabilities, socioeconomic status, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity and/or expression.
  • Prompt, life-saving treatment in the event of an emergency without regard to your ability to pay or to your economic status.
  • Adequate, prompt response to reasonable requests and your need for treatment, whenever possible.
  • Have your pain evaluated and managed.
  • Request the services of a pastor, chaplain or a clergy member of your religious preference and respect toward your religious, spiritual and cultural beliefs.
  • Services of a medical interpreter at no cost to you.
  • Reasonable privacy during medical treatments, medical care, and conversations.
  • Confidentiality of your medical history and treatment records to the extent provided by law.
  • Have your doctor or other provider explain the facts about your illness; your treatment options, benefits and risks of each option; and possible outcomes of each choice.
  • Accept or refuse treatment once you have learned about the benefit and risk of each option.
  • Work with your providers to develop and carry out a plan for your care.
  • Ask and receive names and specialties of any providers taking care of you.
  • Refuse to be observed, examined or treated by medical students or other staff members without risking your access to care and treatment.
  • Specify those to be allowed to visit you. BMC will limit visits by anyone deemed to pose a safety or health risk to you, other patients or staff.
  • Notification of your admission to BMC made to a family member or chosen representative and to your primary care physician.
  • The presence of your chosen support person unless it infringes on the rights of others or poses a safety or health risk to you, other patients or staff.
  • Complete an advance directive form (such as a Health Care Proxy or medical power of attorney), instructing BMC and your providers about your treatment choices and naming your designated “health care agent.” BMC will respect the wishes of your chosen health care agent in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself. If you have not named a health care agent and cannot speak for yourself, BMC will accept the assertion of your spouse or domestic partner, parent or other family member who claims to be your representative. If more than one professes to be your representative, BMC will request supporting documentation from each in order to make its determination.
  • Choose to enroll in a research study if invited. You also have the right not to enroll without affecting your medical care.

Your Medical Records

As a BMC patient you have the right to:

  • Request an inspection of your medical record or for a reasonable fee, to receive a copy of your record after you are discharged from the hospital.
  • Receive a copy of your medical record at no cost if the request supports a legal claim or appeal under the Social Security Act in any federal or state financial needs-based benefit program.
  • Have portions of your medical record sent to a physician at another institution at no charge to you, provided you complete the required request form.
  • Request in writing that an amendment or correction be made to your record if you believe it to be inaccurate. You will receive a response within 30 days.

Financial Issues

As a BMC patient you have the right to request and receive:

  • Information about financial assistance and free healthcare.
  • Copies of itemized bills and other statements of charges submitted to third-party payers (insurance companies).

Rights to Information and Mediation

You have the right to:

  • Receive information about BMC’s policies, rules and regulations about your rights and responsibilities as a patient.
  • Request and receive information about the relationship of BMC and your providers with any other healthcare facility or educational institution as it relates to your care.
  • Contact the BMC Patient Advocacy office at 617.414.4970 to report concerns, problems or complaints about your care or service. If your concerns cannot be resolved by first talking with your providers, you may file a formal complaint or grievance. If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome, you may also contact:

The Massachusetts Board of
Registration in Medicine
200 Harvard Mill Square, Suite 330
Wakefield, MA 01880
800.377.0550 | 781.876.8200

MassPRO (If you have Medicare)
245 Winter Street,
Waltham, MA 02451

Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality
Division of Healthcare Facility Licensure and Certification
67 Forest Street,
Marlborough, MA 01752
Boston, MA 02111
800.462.5540 | 617.753.8000

The Joint Commission
Office of Quality Monitoring
One Renaissance Boulevard
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181

Patient Responsibilities

BMC requests that as a patient you accept the responsibility to:

  • Arrive on time for scheduled appointments or telephone the provider’s office when you are not able to keep your scheduled appointment.
  • Provide accurate and complete information about your present complaints, past illnesses, hospitalizations, medications, advanced directives and other matters concerning your health or care.
  • Inform your providers if you do not understand instructions relating to your care or treatment or if you are unable to follow the instructions.
  • Be considerate of other patients.
  • Make sure your visitors at BMC are considerate of others with respect to noise, and that they adhere to posted visiting hours.
  • Observe BMC’s smoke-free campus rules.
  • Provide BMC with information about your insurance or financial coverage for hospital charges.
  • Accept responsibility for your actions if you refuse treatment or do not follow your provider’s instructions.

Revised January 2013

Contact Us

If you have been unable to resolve your problem within the department in which it occurred, you may contact the Office of Patient Advocacy at 617-414-4970. A Patient Advocate is available on site Monday-Friday 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM. You can also write to us at:

Office of Patient Advocacy
Boston Medical Center
One Boston Medical Place
Dowling Building, Ground Floor, Room 406B
Boston, MA 02118-2393