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Patient's Rights Advocates

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Mental Health Association of Alameda County (MHAAC) - Programs:

Patients’ Rights Advocates

Who we are: The Patients' Rights Advocacy Program responds to questions and complaints from patients in psychiatric hospitals/facilities and residents of halfway houses or board and care homes who feel one or more of their rights have been denied.

Who Is Eligible: Anyone with a question or concern about treatment of a client receiving mental health services in Alameda County is welcome to call.

What Is The Cost: Free

How To Get In Touch: The toll-free telephone # in Alameda County is 800-734-2504;

outside the county, dial 510-835-2505.

fax: 510-835-9232

email: mail@mhaac.org

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Understanding Patients’ Rights

In the hospital the person has the right to:

  • Wear his/her own clothes
  • Keep personal items
  • Keep a reasonable amount of money
  • Have access to letter writing materials and stamps
  • Use the phone
  • See visitors
  • Receive unopened mail
  • Have private storage space


These rights may be denied only for "good cause." For example, no drawstrings are allowed in inpatient psychiatric facilities for safety reasons, and if you do bring clothing with drawstrings, the staff may remove the item. Any time a right is denied, the individual is entitled to an explanation of the reason(s) for the denial. Documentation must follow as soon as the right is denied. Notify a Patients’ Rights Advocate if you feel your friend of family member’s rights have been wrongly denied. 800-734-2504.

There are other patients’ rights that are helpful for caregivers to know about such as:

  • All patients have access to a Patients’ Rights Advocate
  • All patients have a right to retain an attorney if they choose to do so.
  • Involuntary patients have the right to refuse or accept medication after an informed consent process. However, if the attending psychiatrist believes the patient is unable to make an informed decision, the doctor can file a petition to administer medication on an involuntary basis. The petition is reviewed at a capacity hearing by a hearing officer who decides whether the patient has or lacks the capacity to give informed consent. This ruling can be appealed.
  • Patients have the right to complain if they feel treatment is unsatisfactory.



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