What Your Rights Are as a Resident of a Nursing Home

The Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987 is a federal law that guarantees to residents of nursing homes certain rights. In order to benefit from federal funding sources, such as Medicaid or Medicare, nursing homes must abide by the statutory requirements for resident rights guaranteed by the law. In general, the rights guaranteed under federal and state laws relate to quality of life, dignity, respect and the ability of residents to make their own choices. If you or a loved one's rights have been violated by a nursing home, contact an experienced elder law attorney at Ellis Law, P.C. in Poughkeepsie, NY, to discuss your legal options.

Resident bill of rights

States may have their own regulations regarding the rights to which each nursing home resident is entitled. Although some state laws may vary in regards to patient rights, some basic rights will be included in most laws. One right that all long-term care facilities must have is verbal and written notice of all resident rights available to patients. This notice must list and explain all rights and services provided to each resident. A facility will be violating state and federal regulations if such a notice is not provided. Additionally, some basic types of rights include financial, medical, social, safety and administrative rights.

Financial rights

Residents have the right to be fully informed of not only services that the facility provides, but also any charges for services not provided by the nursing home, or extra charges that a resident may incur during his or her stay at the care facility. Residents must also be able to manage their own finances as long as they have the capacity to do so. Those who no longer have the capacity to manage their finances on their own, shall be informed of their financial status.

Medical rights

Patients of nursing home facilities are entitled to adequate medical care and to be fully informed of their medical condition. Residents have the right to refuse medical treatment, choose their doctor, receive information on decisions regarding their care and to keep their medical records private. If a resident is mentally able to make decisions on his or her own behalf, he or she should be given the opportunity to do so regarding his or her medical care.

Social rights

Patients of long-term care facilities have the right to be treated with respect, dignity and privacy. These rights may seem basic to all human beings. However, they are often violated when the patient is weak, frail of body or mind or intimidated. Residents should have the right to see their family, doctors, attorneys and others of their choosing. In addition, the right to communicate privately with individuals via telephone and mail are important for nursing home patients. Residents should have the right to keep their possessions and clothing and to participate in social, community and religious groups and other activities as well.

Right to safety

Each individual has the right to be free of verbal, sexual or physical abuse. This right is important in the nursing home setting. Patients quality of life should be enhanced by living in a nursing facility such that safety should never be in question. Abuse is something that one should watch for when visiting a resident of a care facility. In the case of restraints, they should be used only on doctor's orders and for an individual's own safety. If restraints are used for any other reason, this is a misapplication of restraint and constitutes abuse.

Administrative rights

Nursing home residents have rights to participate in administrative processes regarding their own care. This includes notice of and the right to appeal room changes, roommate changes and transfers. A patient can only be discharged or transferred from a facility for medical reasons. Financial means of a patient can never be used for transfer or ejectment from a facility. Individuals have the right to apply for Medicare or Medicaid, put be made aware of the application process from nursing home staff and must be treated the same as private payers. If an individual is not treated well or has complaints, he or she must be able to voice any concerns or grievances. This includes access and information on the facility complaint procedure, the ability to file a complaint about any mistreatment and information on where/how to file a complaint.

Speak to a personal injury lawyer

If you or a loved one has been denied basic rights by a nursing home or its employees, contact an elder law attorney at Ellis Law, P.C. in Poughkeepsie, NY, to discuss possible legal compensation in your case.