No Patient Left Alone Act Provider Alert

On April 6, 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 988, The No Patient Left Alone Act, to guarantee Florida families the fundamental right to visit their loved ones who are receiving care in hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled (long-term care facilities). No health care facility in Florida may require a vaccine as a condition of visitation and every health care facility must allow their residents and patients to be hugged by their loved ones.

SB 988 states that all hospitals, hospices, and long-term care facilities visitation policies and procedures must allow for in-person visitation in all the following circumstances, unless the resident, client, or patient objects:

  • End-of-life situations.
  • A resident, client, or patient who was living with family before being admitted to the provider’s care is struggling with the change in environment and lack of in-person family support.
  • A resident, client, or patient is making one or more major medical decisions.
  • A resident, client, or patient is experiencing emotional distress or grieving the loss of a friend or family member who recently died.
  • A resident, client, or patient needs cueing or encouragement to eat or drink which was previously provided by a family member or caregiver.
  • A resident, client, or patient who used to talk and interact with others is seldom speaking.
  • For hospitals, childbirth, including labor and delivery.
  • Pediatric patients

Additionally, the bill allows a resident, client, or patient the option to designate a visitor who is a family member, friend, guardian, or other individual as an essential caregiver. The provider must allow in-person visitation by the essential caregiver for at least two hours daily in addition to any other visitation authorized by the provider. 

TODAY is the deadline for all Florida hospitals, hospices, and long-term care facilities to adopt and publicly post their visitation policy in an easily accessible format on the home page of their website. In addition to the requirements above, the policies and procedures should outline hours for visitation and any health or safety procedures that visitors are subject to. The provider is also authorized to request a visitor to agree to the policy and procedures in writing.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities must also ensure their policies and procedures meet or exceed the standards included in ss. 400.022(1)(b) and 429.28(1)(d).

In addition, these providers must submit their visitation policy to their licensing unit upon filing an initial, renewal, or change of ownership application. If you have any questions regarding this notification, please contact the appropriate licensing unit. Assisted Living Licensure Unit – (850) 412- 4304. Hospital & Outpatient Services Unit – (850) 412- 4549. Long Term Care Services Unit – (850) 412-4303.

Providers are encouraged to review all information that is required by this law, which can be found on the Agency’s dedicated webpage.

The Agency takes our role as Florida’s health care regulator seriously and will survey for compliance with these protections as part of the survey process and when a complaint is filed with the Agency.

If someone has been met with resistance from a hospital, hospice, or long-term care facility when attempting to visit with loved ones, they may file a complaint with the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) for further review and action online at www.ahca.myflorida.com/visitation or call our dedicated phone line for visitation related complaints 888-775-6055.