161 Riverside Drive, Binghamton, NY 13905
The Pregnant Patient's Bill of Rights
The pregnant patient has the right to participate in decisions
involving her well-being and that of her unborn child, unless there
is a clear-cut medical emergency that prevents her participation.
In addition to the right set forth in the American Hospital
Association's "Patient's Bill Of Rights", the pregnant patient,
because she presents TWO patients rather than one, should be
recognized as having the additional rights listed below:
The Pregnant Patient Has The Right:
1 . Prior to the administration of any drug or procedure, to be
informed by health professionals caring for her, of any potential
direct or indirect effects, risks or hazards to herself of her
unborn or newborn infant which may result from the use of a drug or
procedure prescribed for, or administered to her, during pregnancy,
labor, birth or lactation.
2. Prior to the proposed therapy, to be informed, not only of
the benefits, risks and hazards of the proposed therapy, but also
of known alternative therapy, such as available childbirth
education classes which could help to prepare the pregnant patient
physically and mentally to cope with the discomfort or stress of
pregnancy and the experience of childbirth, thereby reducing or
eliminating her need for drugs and obstetric intervention. She
should be offered such information early in her pregnancy, in order
that she may make a reasoned decision.
3. Prior to the administration of any drug, to be informed by
the health professional who is prescribing or administering the
drug to her, that any drug which she receives during pregnancy,
labor and birth, no matter how or when the drug is taken or
administered, may adversely affect her unborn baby, directly or
indirectly, and that there is no drug or IV chemical which has been
proven safe for the unborn child.
4. If cesarean birth is anticipated, to be informed prior to the
administration of any drug, and preferably prior to her
hospitalization, that minimizes the intake for her and her baby of
non-essential preoperative medicine, which will benefit her
5. Prior to the administration of a drug or procedure, to be
informed of the areas of uncertainty if there is NO properly
controlled follow-up research which has established the safety of
the drug or procedure with regard to its direct and/or indirect
effects on the physiological, mental and neurological development
of the child exposed, via the mother, to the drug or procedure
during pregnancy, labor, birth or lactation (this would apply to
virtually all drugs and the vast majority of obstetric
6. Prior to the administration of any drug, to be informed of
the brand name and generic name of the drug, in order that she may
advise the health professional of any past adverse reaction to the
7. To determine for herself, without pressure from her
attendant, whether she will accept the risks inherent in the
proposed therapy, or refuse a drug or procedure.
8. To know the name and qualifications of the individual
administering a medication or procedure to her during labor or
9. To be informed, prior to the administration of any procedure,
whether the procedure is being administered to her or for her
baby's benefit (medically indicated) or as an elective procedure
(for convenience, teaching purposes or research).
10. To be accompanied during the stress of labor and birth by
someone she cares for, and to whom she looks for emotional comfort
11. After appropriate medical consultation to choose a position
for labor and birth which is least stressful to her baby and
12. To have her baby cared for at her bedside, if her baby is
normal, and to feed her baby according to her baby's needs, rather
than according to hospital regimen.
13, To be informed, in writing, of the name of the person who
actually delivered her baby, and the professional qualifications of
that person. This information should also be on the birth
14. To be informed if there is any known or indicated aspect of
her baby's care or condition which may cause her or her baby later
difficulty or problems.
15. To have her and her baby's hospital medical records
complete, accurate and legible and to have their records, including
Nurses' Notes, retained by the hospital until the child reaches at
least the age of majority, or, alternatively, to have the records
offered to her before they are destroyed.
16. Both during and after her hospital stay, has the right to
have access to her complete hospital medical records, including
Nurses' Notes, and to receive a copy, upon payment of a reasonable
fee and without incurring the expense of retaining an attorney.
It is the obstetric patient and her baby, not the health
professional, who must sustain any trauma or injury resulting from
the use of a drug or obstetric procedure. The observation of the
rights listed above will not only permit the obstetric patient to
participate in the decisions involving her and her baby's health
care, but will help to protect the health professional and the
hospital against litigation arising from the resentment or
misunderstanding on the part of the mother.