Skip to Content

Patients rights – Wis. Stat. Ann. § 51.61

Link to the law
This will open in a new window

Patients Rights

When patients are admitted or committed, they must be informed orally and in writing of his/her rights.  These rights include the rights to:

  • Refuse to perform labor that results in financial benefit to the facility
  • Voluntarily participate in non-compensated therapeutic labor
  • Send and receive mail
  • Petition the court for review of a commitment order
  • Receive prompt and adequate treatment
  • Participate in the planning of their treatment and to be fully informed about their treatment.
  • "[B]e free from unnecessary or excessive medication at any time." Providers must document the administration of medication in a patient's medical records.
  • Refuse medication or treatment due to their religious beliefs and in certain other specific instances. Providers must inform individuals of this right prior to administering medication or treatment. However, providers may administer treatment or medication against a patient's wishes if compliance with a court order or if necessary to prevent serious harm to other persons.
  • Be free from physical restraint and isolation except for emergency situations or when it is a part of the treatment
  • Abstain from participation in experimental research. Patients may participate in research so long as they and their guardian provide informed consent after consulting with "independent specialists" and the patient’s legal representative.
  • Provide informed consent before receiving electroconvulsive treatment, "psychosurgery, or other drastic treatment procedures." Patients must consult with their legal representative and guardian before giving informed consent.
  • Religious worship within the facility
  • Humane psychological and physical environment within the facilities
  • Have their treatment records kept confidential, inspect and copy their records, and to challenge the accuracy of information within the records.
  • Not be filmed or taped unless patient signs a specific informed consent authorizing it
  • Reasonably access phone services
  • Be permitted to wear his/her own clothing, be provided access to storage and be given reasonable protection of privacy for bathroom activities
  • Present grievances under established procedures


The director of the facility may deny these granted rights for cause after review, and such denial must be in writing and included in the treatment record.  The patient must have an opportunity for review.


The department of health services, county departments, and agencies that provide mental health services pursuant to an agreement with the department may "use customary and usual treatment techniques" while providing mental health services. Such providers must, prior to administering treatment, obtain a patient's informed consent in writing unless the patient is not competent to refuse medication or is under the age of 14 and receiving substance abuse treatment mental health treatment. Parents or guardians must provide informed consent in such circumstances.


Providers must obtain the written informed consent of minors over the age of 14 and the minor's parents are guardian before providing treatment for mental illness or a developmental disability.

Current as of June 2015