Hospital Visitation Authorization

DEFINITION of 'Hospital Visitation Authorization'

A document that indicates who is allowed to visit a patient in a hospital or medical facility. The hospital visitation authorization document provides medical staff with guidance as to who may visit (outside of family members). It is a legal document, similar to a will or power of attorney.

BREAKING DOWN 'Hospital Visitation Authorization'

The document is similar to a will in that it provides specific instructions that should be carried out in the event that the individual who signed the document is incapacitated or unable to communicate his or her wishes.  

Hospitals typically allow biological and legal members of a patient’s family visitation rights, and may not allow others to visit unless specifically stated by the patient. Some states do not consider certain individuals, such as non-married partners, to be legal family members. Without a document indicating that those individuals are allowed, they will not be given visitation privileges.

If an incapacitated individual has not fully documented his or her wishes, a hospital will default to state laws, even if those laws result in actions that the individual would not want.