A recent news article revisits the federal Nursing Home Reform Act to inform nursing home residents of their legal rights and protections. The Nursing Home Reform Act was passed in 1987 as an amendment to the 1980 Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, which protected the civil rights of residents of nursing homes and other facilities. Today, as the incidence of nursing home abuse and negligence is at risk of increasing along with other forms of elder abuse, it is vital for elders and their loved ones to be aware of their legal rights as residents of nursing homes and elder care facilities.
The rights delineated in the Nursing Home Reform Act serve the purpose of protecting elders from nursing home abuse and both physical and financial elder abuse. The rights that prevent and deter physical abuse include the right to be free from abuse or neglect, the right to be free from restraints, and the right to receive proper medical care.
Abuse or neglect broadly encompasses verbal, physical, or sexual abuse or neglect. Examples of this sort of abuse can range from verbal attacks to improper hygiene or cleaning practices that result in patient bedsores or infections. Patients also may not be restrained in any sort of way by nursing home staff. The definition of restraint encompasses not only physical restraints such as side rails, but also any sort of drug or chemical restraint that might subdue or incapacitate a patient. The right to proper medical care is a further assurance against physical abuse; patients can and should be fully informed at all times about their medications, medical situations, and health statuses. Failure to provide proper medical care and accompanying information can be an instance of physical abuse.
Elders in nursing homes are protected against financial abuse by their right to information on services and fees and right to manage finances. Before an elder patient moves in to a nursing home, the nursing home is required by law to inform the elder of all services and fees that will or could be charged to the elder. Furthermore, the nursing home must respect any Medicare or Medicaid coverage that pays for long-term care. During the elder’s residency in a nursing home, the elder must be able to access their finances, bank accounts, cash, and other financial records at all time. Violations of these rights may constitute financial elder abuse.
The Nursing Home Reform Act is a federal act that is enforceable and must be obeyed by law in California and all other states. This means that all nursing homes in California must afford their patients the rights listed above and any others listed in the Nursing Home Reform Act. If you believe you or a loved one has suffered abuse or had their resident rights violated, contact the Evans Law Firm in California for a free and confidential consultation at 415-441-8669 or 800-50-EVANS, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.