Is it legal to stand on the sidewalk outside of the hospital with a sign that says "Bethesda Hospital ignores family members"?

Asked over 2 years ago - Minneapolis, MN

I was asked to leave the hospital today and told that I am not allowed to visit my significant other in the hospital, due to a verbal altercation that occurred between me and a physician. We are not married. I am not his Power of Attorney.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Maurice N Ross


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The First Amendment allows you to express your opinion, but it does not allow you to make false statements of fact. While I cannot comment on Minnesota law, in most states you would not be considered a family member. Further, it seems that you were allowed to visit your significant other before the verbal altercation with the physician. The hospital must place the best interests of your significant other and its other patients ahead of your interests----and it could reasonably conclude in view of the verbal altercation that you should not be allowed on the premises. Without knowing more about the specific facts (including reason for the verbal altercation and the nature of the altercation), I cannot comment about whether you were "ignored"---but the mere fact that you were allowed to visit your significant other and speak to the physician seems to indicate that you were not ignored. You did not have the right to direct the medical treatment given to your significant other---and thus, if the physician or hospital ignored your wishes they were not violating any rights that you have. I would be careful about making accusations against this hospital that may not be true.

    Further, if you believe you have a valid basis for complaining about your treatment, your best approach would be to retain counsel to advise you on the issue, and ask your counsel to pursue your claim against the hospital. A "protest" sign on the street is not going to get you very far----even if it is permitted under local law. In this regard, the First Amendment does not prevent the government from enacting rules concerning the time, place and manner in which First Amendment rights are exercised (for example, courts have upheld laws prevent protests that block entrances to abortion clinics or emergency rules). It is quite possible that your proposed sidewalk protest would violate local laws that govern the time, place and manner of such protests.

  2. Mario Sergio Golab

    Contributor Level 17


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . This is not an IP question it is a First Amendment, freedom of speech, question
    You are entitle to state your opinion freely, but you cannot tell a lie. You have stated you are not a family member, but yet you are put it in on a sign. That is defamation and you should be aware that you cross the line. DO NOT DO IT.

    USPTO Registered Patent Attorney, Master of Intellectual Property law, MBA I am neither your attorney, nor my... more
  3. Robert Lincoln

    Contributor Level 10


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . If what you want is to be able to visit your significant other, then you should get a health care or other power of attorney drafted and have it executed by him. If you also want to be sure that you are doing what you can to be sure that he gets the best possible care, you also should contact the hospital and try to apologize.

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