Appointed Support Person

Appointed Support Person: Under Washington State and ADA law, you can simply introduce yourself to hospital staff as your loved one’s “support person,” accompany them to their room, and act as their “legal representative / decision-maker.” Here are videos on how to be a patient advocate.


Federal and state laws in OR and WA REQUIRE hospitals, ERs, and clinics to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to health care services and facilities, including a disabled patient’s right to designate 2-3 appointed support persons upon admission. Unless the disabled patient requests otherwise, at least one support person is allowed to remain with the patient AT ALL TIMES,  despite what the current Covid visitation rules may be. Other buzz words included “essential support person” or “essential caregiver” or “compassionate care visits.”

Disability within the laws below is defined as: 

“patients with physical, intellectual, and/or developmental disabilities and patients with cognitive impairments.”

A support person:

  • is authorized to receive personal health information about the patient, to communicate with hospital staff, make health care decisions, or engage in activities of daily living
  • may or may not be a person who is the patient’s legal representative/decision-maker
  • is a family member, guardian, personal care assistant, or other paid or unpaid attendant 
  • is selected by the patient to physically or emotionally assist the patient or ensure effective communication with the patient

WA Department of Health Support Person Guidance: [hospitals] [WAC 246-320-141: Patient rights and hospital organizational ethics] [long-term care facilities] [long-term care facilities] [Disability Rights WA]

OR Health Authority Patient Access to Support Persons: [hospitals] [hospitals] [hospitals, Senate Bill 1606] [Disability Rights OR]