Legal Rights of Nursing Home Residents

Nursing homes refer to private institutions that provide shelter, care, and feeding for the sick, aged, and infirm people. They are not considered as strictly hospitals since they do not necessarily provide actual medical treatment but may be considered hospitals for particular purposes which depend on different statutes that may govern their functions.

Federal regulations are determined from the four kinds of healthcare facilities namely:

  • Adult boarding facilities, considered as the lowest form of nursing care
  • Residential care facilities
  • Intermediate care facilities
  • Skilled nursing facilities, which is considered as the highest form of nursing care

Various standards are used depending on how the institution is categorized. The state and federal governments control the skilled nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities, especially in terms of their membership in Medicare and Medicaid. The national standards for nursing homes that are classified as “extended care facilities” are in the Federal Medicare Health Insurance Program for the Aged.

Under the federal guidelines, every nursing facility must create and implement written regulations and procedures which disallow mistreatment, abuse, and neglect of residents. Each resident in a nursing facility is entitled to have a verbal and written notice of the rights and services he/she is entitled to during his/her stay in the facility. This notice should be provided before to or upon the admission, and periodically all throughout his/her stay in the facility, and in the language, the resident can understand. On the other hand, the residents must acknowledge the receipt of the notice in writing.

  • The residents may keep and utilize their personal possessions and clothing unless that by doing so will endanger health and safety.
  • The nursing home must treat everyone the same, regardless of whether they are payers or Medicare or Medicaid recipients.
  • The nursing home residents have the right to select their own personal doctor.
  • The nursing home residents have the right to see their family members, ombudspersons, or other advocates of the residents, service providers, doctors, and representatives of the state and the federal government.
  • The nursing home residents have the right to deny treatment.
  • The nursing home residents cannot be separated from other residents against their will.
  • The residents have the right to use for and receive benefits of Medicare and Medicaid and will not be asked to leave the home since they receive the benefits.
  • The nursing home residents have the right to review the recent state inspection report which associated with the home.
  • The nursing home residents and their official representatives have the right to a 30-day notice of the proposed transfer or discharge, and the right to appeal.
  • Prior to the transfer of residents for hospitalization or therapy, the nursing home must inform the concerned residents of the length of time that their beds will be opened for their return, known as “bedhold period.”
  • The nursing home residents who are returning from the hospital or therapeutic leave after the expiration of the bedhold period, have the right to be re-admitted immediately as the first semi-private bed is available.
  • The residents have the rights to the lists of services paid by Medicare and Medicaid, and the additional services for which the residents are charged, including the fees for other services.
  • The residents have the right to be completely informed about their medical care.
  • The residents have the right to keep their personal and clinical records confidential.
  • The residents have the right to join in the planning of their care and treatment.
  • The residents cannot be tied or given drugs to bar them if restraining is not needed to treat their medical condition.
  • The residents have the right to raise and file grievances and resolve them quickly.
  • The residents have the right to be mentally and physically free from abuse.
  • The residents may join in religious, social, and community activities unless they do not interfere with the rights of the other residents.
  • The residents have the right to privacy, including in their rooms, communications, medical treatment, meetings with family and resident groups, and visits.
  • The residents must be provided notice prior to the change in their rooms or roommate, and residents can refuse the transfer if the purpose is to transfer them from a Medicare bed to Medicaid bed, or vice versa.
  • The residents have the right to review their medical records within 24 hours of the request.
  • The residents do not have to deposit their personal funds to the nursing home, and when the nursing home requests that they will manage the residents’ funds, the home meets all the rules according to the state and federal requirements.
  • The residents have the right to remain in the nursing home and can only be eliminated when it is needed for the welfare of the residents, or when the resident will no longer require the services of the facility, or when there is a necessity to avoid harm to safety and health of other residents in the facility, or when the resident is unable to pay after reasonable notice, or when the facility stops its operation.
  • The residents have the right to be informed of their rights upon admission and must be provided written for these rights when the resident requests for it.

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