Your Rights as a Patient - Penn State Cancer Institute

Navigation Menu

Clinical Trial External Search

Your Rights as a Patient

Nested Applications

Your Rights as a Patient

Be your own advocate

Talk with your care team

The most important member of your health care team is you. Talk to the doctors, nurses, social workers and other professionals who provide your care. Let them know any concerns or questions you have. Make sure to:

  • Understand the roles of the care team members. Remember, you have a right to ask why someone is in your room.
  • Ask questions until you fully understand your care plan and each part of it.
  • Ask a family member or loved one to attend rounds with you. This is when the attending doctor and other care team members will come to your room to update you on your condition. The team usually makes rounds between 8 a.m. and noon.

Part of the job of your nurse, care coordinator, patient experience representative and social worker is being your advocate. They’ll look out for your best interests, connect you with resources and support you as you heal.

Know where to get help

If you have questions or concerns that aren’t being addressed, talk to your care coordinator or social worker. Your nurse can tell you how to reach them.

Our Patient Experience liaison can help you talk to your doctors. Call 717-531-0003, x284511.

If you have a concern or complaint that is not being resolved, you have several options.

Join a support group

Support groups are a way to connect with others who are having similar struggles. You can get moral support and share resources and information. A support group can help you learn how to get the best care - and take care of yourself. Find a support group.

Patient Privacy

Discussing patient information

Our staff only uses a patient’s medical information to provide treatment to the patient or for billing purposes. We don’t discuss a patient’s health with anyone other than the patient, his or her guardian, and other related care providers.

We ask that you share medical information with your family and friends as you feel appropriate.

Confidential admission

You may request that we “do not list” you as a patient in our directory.

If you make such a request, your callers and visitors will be told that you are not a patient. Mail, gifts, and flowers will be returned to the sender. This designation is usually reserved for legal issues.

Request for privacy

If you are in a non-private room, the nurses might request visitors to step out of the room if you or another patient requests privacy to discuss medical issues with a care provider.


We cannot guarantee the confidentiality of any messages transmitted over the Internet, so please don’t use e-mail to send or request sensitive information. You can send secure messages to your provider through My Penn State Health, our site for patients.

Do not use e-mail to report sudden or significant changes in your health to your care provider.

Privacy notices

Our privacy notice is posted in public locations throughout the hospital. You may also request a privacy notice from your caregiver or by contacting the Privacy Office at 717-531-2081.

Learn more about our commitment to privacy:

Notice of Privacy Practices - HIPAA

The HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) Privacy Rule gives individuals a fundamental right to be informed of the privacy practices of their health care providers, and to be informed of their privacy rights with respect to their personal health information (PHI). The required notice is available for you to download below:

Patient Complaints

How to share a complaint or suggestion

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center has a team of care and service providers who are dedicated to your well-being.

If you have a complaint about the care your receive, it’s best to voice your concern with the respective doctor, nurse, or social worker present.

If you prefer not to speak directly to the care provider, our Patient Relations staff will work with you to address the issue.

Additional options

If you prefer to speak about your concerns with someone who is not employed by the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, please contact:

The Pennsylvania Department of Health Acute and Ambulatory Care Services
P.O. Box 90
Harrisburg, PA 17108-0090


The Office of Quality and Patient Safety (OQPS)
The Joint Commission
Office of Quality Monitoring and Patient Safety
One Renaissance Boulevard
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181

Your Rights as a patient - contact us

Share your concerns

If you have concerns or questions, please contact Patient Relations at 717-531-6311.