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  • Rights and Responsibilities

    As a patient of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, or as the parent or guardian of a minor patient, we want you to know the rights that you have under federal and Massachusetts state law.


    You have the right to:

    • receive health care that respects your cultural, psychosocial, and personal values and beliefs, including the right to request pastoral and other spiritual services. The Institute is committed to serving all patients, without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, political affiliation, veteran status, or other non-medically relevant factors.
    • obtain a copy of any rules or regulations that relate to the conduct of patients, as provided below.
    • have a family member, friend, or other individual be present with you for support during your visits.

    Privacy and confidentiality

    You have the right to:

    • know that your records and communications are confidential to the extent provided by law.
    • expect privacy during medical treatment and care, within the capacity of the Institute.


    You have the right to:

    • refuse to be examined, observed, or treated by students or other Institute staff, without jeopardizing access to psychiatric, psychological, or other medical care.
    • refuse to serve as a research subject or receive any care or examination that is primarily for educational or informational purposes, rather than for treatment.
    • participate in any consideration of ethical issues that arise in your care or your child's, such as resolving conflict, withholding resuscitation, forgoing or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, or taking part in research studies.

    Pain management

    You have the right to:

    • receive assessment and treatment for physical and psychological pain.
    • information and treatment.

    You have the right to:

    • obtain an explanation of any relationship (including financial) the Institute, or your physician, has with another health-care facility or educational institution, to the extent that the relationship relates to your care or your child's.
    • receive information regarding financial assistance or free health care.
    • receive information, as needed and available, if you have a vision, speech, hearing, or cognitive impairment.
    • obtain the name and specialty of the physician or other health-care providers caring for you or your child.
    • have all reasonable requests responded to promptly and adequately within the capacity of the Institute.
    • receive enough information to give an informed consent to treatment, to the extent provided by law, including an explanation of your condition or your child's, proposed treatments, and alternative therapies, with their respective benefits and risks.
    • make decisions regarding your health care, including the decision to refuse or discontinue treatment, to the extent permitted by law.
    • fill out advance care directives, such as a health care proxy form to designate someone who can make decisions for you, if you become incapable of understanding a proposed treatment or procedure, or are unable to communicate your wishes regarding care.
    • receive a complete copy of the Massachusetts Patient Rights law (M.G.L. chapter 111 section 70E), available from Patient/Family Relations or on the Massachusetts General Court website.
    • if you have breast cancer, receive complete information from your physician on medically viable alternative treatments.
    • have an interpreter or other assistance, as needed and available, when there is a language, communication, or hearing barrier.
    • inspect your medical record, or your child's, and receive a copy of it. If you request a copy, you may be charged a fee, unless you show that your request supports a claim or appeal under any provision of the Social Security Act in any federal or state needs-based benefit program.
    • receive prompt, life-saving treatment in an emergency without discrimination or delay based on economic or payment concerns.
    • receive a prompt and safe transfer to the care of others if the Institute is unable to meet your request or need for treatment or service. For example, if we are unable to offer the type and quality of care, based on available resources, required by your specific condition or disease, or those of your child, we will make sure that you can receive care elsewhere.
    • receive an itemized list of charges submitted by the Institute to your insurer or another third party regarding your care or your child's, including the amounts covered by the third-party payer, and a copy of the Institute's itemized charges sent to the attending physician.
    • register complaints or grievances, and seek solutions to problems, through Patient/Family Relations. You have the right to file a grievance with the Institute if you have concerns regarding your care and treatment.

    Your responsibilities

    By taking an active role in your health care, you can help your caregivers meet your needs as a patient or family member. That is why we ask you and your family to share certain responsibilities with us.

    We ask that you:

    • provide, to the best of your ability, accurate and complete information about your present condition, past illnesses, hospitalizations, medications, and other matters related to your health or your child's, including information about home and/or work that may impact your ability to follow the proposed treatment.
    • follow the treatment plan developed with your provider. You should express any concerns about your ability to comply with a proposed course of treatment. You are responsible for the outcomes if you refuse treatment or do not follow your care provider's instructions.
    • be considerate of other patients and Institute staff and their property. Abusive, threatening. or inappropriate language or behavior will not be tolerated.
    • keep appointments or call us when you are unable to do so.
    • be honest about your financial needs, so that we may connect you to appropriate resources.
    • give us any health care proxy or other legal document, such as a power of attorney or court order, that may affect your decision-making ability or care.
    • notify us if you object to students or researchers participating in your care.

    Please direct your concerns to:

    Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
    Patient/Family Relations
    450 Brookline Ave.
    Boston, MA 02215
    Phone: 617-632-3417
    TDD: 617-632-5330
    Fax: 617-582-7914  

    Brigham and Women's Hospital
    Patient/Family Relations
    75 Francis St.
    Boston, MA 02115
    Phone: 617-732-6636 

    Massachusetts Department of Public Health
    Division of Health Care Quality
    99 Chauncy St., 2nd Floor
    Boston, MA 02111
    Phone: 800-462-5540
    Fax: 617-753-8165 

    Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine
    200 Harvard Mill Square, Suite 330
    Wakefield, MA 01880
    Phone: 800-377-0550
    Fax: 781-876-8383 

    The Joint Commission
    Office of Quality Monitoring
    1 Renaissance Blvd.
    Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
    Phone: 630-792-5000 

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Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center is ranked #4 nationally and the best in New England.


Dana-Farber/Boston Children's is ranked the #1 pediatric cancer center.

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