Patient and Institution Rights

doctor examining patient with a stethoscope

People with disabilities have the absolute right to be free from abuse, neglect and exploitation, no matter where they live or receive services. They and their guardians must be involved in the decisions that affect their lives, including treatment, where to live, where to receive services, whether to work, and how to spend free time. So that people with disabilities can make informed decisions, facilities and programs must provide information about their rights, how to exercise those rights, and how to challenge decisions when they do not agree.

People with disabilities who live in institutions have rights under federal and state laws. These rights include:

  • The right to due process when being committed to an institution;
  • The right to humane, dignified, and respectful treatment, free from abuse and neglect, while in an institution; and,
  • The right to appropriate discharge planning when leaving an institution.


We provide advocacy and legal services in response to a variety of rights violations in institutions and programs. We help ensure that people with disabilities are safe, receive high-quality care and have their rights enforced.

Self-Advocacy Resources

Our self-advocacy resources have helpful guidance and further information on issues related to this topic. Learn more below:


Other places that may be able to help you:

  • ABC For Health Inc.

    Legal staff may help you challenge health insurance claim denials, negotiate with creditors, and represent you in appeals before government agencies.

  • ADRC of Central Wisconsin

    We are the first place to go with your aging and disability questions. Anyone can contact us, regardless of their financial status, to receive accurate, unbiased information on all aspects of life related to aging or living with a disability.

  • Client Rights Office

    The Client Rights Office serves individuals receiving services for developmental disability, mental health, and substance use in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings, including adult family homes, clinics, community-based residential facilities, facilities operated by WI DHS, and group homes.

  • State Bar Lawyer Referral Modest Means Program

    The Modest Means Program of the State Bar of Wisconsin assists people whose income is too high to qualify for free legal services, but too low to pay a lawyer’s standard rate.

Learn More

You can find more information on this topic from these websites and publications:


Want to do more to help protect individuals with disabilities? Please visit our Take Action Page for some ideas and to sign up for news and other alerts from our website. Or Donate Now to help protect and advocate for the rights and futures of all Wisconsin citizens. We'd love to have you join us.

Get Help

Need further information or support? Please visit our Contact Page.