10. Right to communication

(a) Mail

A patient may send and receive uncensored letters and must be given access to letter writing materials and stamps. If a patient’s treatment team or doctor limits the patient’s access to mail, the limitation must be documented in the patient’s medical chart. Staff must reevaluate the restriction every seven days. Hospital staff may open mail only if there is a legitimate suspicion that the mail contains dangerous or contraband items. Even then, the mail must be opened in front of the patient. 

(b) Telephone access

A patient must have reasonable access to a telephone and may make and receive private telephone calls. A patient’s communications with his or her doctor, clergy, or attorney are confidential, and a patient should be given privacy to speak to these people. If a patient’s access to telephones is restricted or limited, staff must document the reasons for the limitation in the patient’s medical chart. Staff must reassess the limitation every seven days.

(c) Visitors

A patient may have visitors at reasonable times. The hospital must inform a patient of any clinically necessary or reasonable restriction that the hospital may need to place on visitation rights, and the reasons behind the restrictions. Visitors may include a spouse, a domestic partner, another family member, or a friend. A patient may refuse to see any visitors that he or she does not wish to see.

A forensic patient may have professionals such as attorneys, clergy, health care providers, and law enforcement visit on the ward in the interview room. A forensic patient may see personal visitors on-ward or off-ward, depending on the privilege level and legal status. Contact visits are also determined based on a patient’s privilege level. A forensic patient may ask to see the visiting procedure to review all of the rules about visits on the forensic wards.

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