What Rights Does the Federal Government Guarantee for Nursing Home Residents?
Nursing home residents are protected under Federal law and have the right to have control over their medical treatment and care. Other rights that are protected include:
- The right to have visitors
- The right to complain about inferior care
- The right to not be abused in any way
- The right not to be restrained
- The right to personal privacy and respect, including medical records
- The right to have and use personal clothes and belongings
- The right to medical disclosure of all treatment and costs
- The right to personal physician care
- The right to handle personal finances
- The right to know all policies and procedures within the nursing home
The state of Illinois also guarantees you certain privileges with respect to nursing homes and medical records, which include the following: see and retain your copies, amend your record by adding information, file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the applicable state department, and sue in the Illinois Circuit Court to get compel production of your records.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents victims of nursing home abuse, mistreatment or neglect, and other types of professional negligence. Our law firm has successfully prosecuted cases for our clients who were injured by the negligent actions of others. Our attorneys are available to answer any legal questions on how to receive the monetary compensation you deserve if your injuries were a result of someone else's negligence. Should you have additional questions, we invite you to contact our office for a free review of your legal rights.
Abuse in a Nursing Facility
Many families are faced with the heart-wrenching decision to place a loved one in a nursing facility to ensure they receive the best medical care and hygiene assistance. These facilities are designed to ensure the elderly, disabled, ill, and rehabilitating individuals have their daily living needs met by competent nursing staff and medical doctors. Families placed their trust in the nursing staff to ensure they get the same standard of care their loved one received at home or in the hospital. Unfortunately, abuse, mistreatment, and neglect still occur even at the most respected nursing facilities throughout America.
Research findings by the Special Investigation Division of the House Government Reform Committee revealed that nearly one out of three nursing facilities in the United States (more than 5200 nursing homes) have been cited for violations involving neglect and abuse. When the rights of the residents are violated by the nursing staff, medical doctors, or administration at the nursing home, the victims can hold them legally accountable and financially responsible for damages.
The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987
The U.S. Congress established the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987 after a study was released concerning the evaluation of the quality of care occurring in nursing homes receiving Medicare and Medicaid. Sadly, the 1986 study showed that residents in nursing facilities, assisted living centers, and rehabilitation facilities were subjected to abuse, neglect, and substandard care. Congress took swift action to reform the nursing home industry following proposals by the Institute of Medicine as outlined in the 1987 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.
The act sets forth strict guidelines for Nursing Home regulation and certification at facilities that receive state and federal funds. To enforce the guidelines and regulations, the state conducts routine unannounced investigations and surveys that often involve interviews with residents. All the annual certification surveys occur irregularly and without notice between one month and fifteen months apart. Additionally, inspectors will show up immediately unexpectedly to conduct an investigation concerning a formal complaint.
The NHRA enforcement process takes over if the facility is found to be noncompliant. The state surveyors' process identifies violations and deficiencies that require specific action. In most cases, the facility is given the opportunity to correct the violation before the state takes action based on certain criteria including:
- Does the identified deficiency jeopardize any resident immediately?
- Is the violation an isolated occurrence, part of a recurring pattern, or a widespread problem at the facility?
Typically, if the facility does not correct the violation promptly or immediately, the state might carry out a harsh remedy including:
- Temporary management of the facility,
- Denied payment for a Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement,
- Regular monitoring by state officials,
- Levying civil monetary penalties and fines,
- Termination of the Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement agreement.
The Resident's Bill of Rights
The NHRA set forth the Resident's Bill of Rights to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of every patient nursing facilities are protected. The Bill of Rights ensures that every resident maintains their right to:
- Be treated with dignity and respect,
- Ensure that their physical, psychosocial, and mental needs are met
- Enjoy life that is free of abuse, neglect, or mistreatment,
- Open and free communication with family, friends, other residents, visitors, and nursing home employees,
- Have access to nursing, rehabilitation, and social services,
- Undergo periodic assessments to ensure they receive the highest quality of care,
- Have access to pharmaceutical and dietary services,
- Have access to a full-time social worker in nursing homes that accommodate 120 residents are more,
- Self-determination over their wants, desires, and choices for medical care and assistance,
- Lived a life free of physical or chemical restraints,
- Have their grievances heard without the fear of discrimination or reprisal,
- Participate in activities and visits with family, friends, and other residents,
- Participate in developing a personal care plan with immediate notice of any change in their care, treatment, needs, or nursing home status.
Nursing Home Abuse is a Serious Problem
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are more than 40 million men and women who reached their 65th year, representing over 13% of the American population. Of these, approximately 6 million are 85 years and older. Many of these individuals either currently reside in a nursing facility or are likely to in the years ahead. Unfortunately, statistics show that there are serious problems with nursing homes, assisted living centers, and rehabilitation facilities nationwide that include:
- Nearly one out of ten nursing facilities in the United States have been cited for violations that pose the serious risk of severe injury or death or were cited for a deficiency that actually caused the death of a resident.
- Four out of ten residents in nursing facilities have filed a formal complaint reporting that they have been abused.
- Nine out of ten report that they personally or other residents at the nursing home have been neglected by the staff.
- Studies have revealed that half of all attendants in nursing facilities have admitted to neglecting or abusing elderly residents.
- Over 50% of all CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants) providing care in nursing facilities have admitted that they “yelled at, verbally abused, or used foul language” when interacting with elderly residents.
Elder abuse in nursing facilities is a critical concern for the federal and state governments. Many nursing home residents are subjected to physical abuse, sexual assault, emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, or exploitation. Many of the perpetrators that cause the residents serious harm includes the nursing home residents' staff, the facility's administration, family members including spouses and children, and other residents. The Government defines nursing home mistreatment as:
- Physical abuse where the resident is experiencing inflicted pain or injury from another.
- Sexual assault including inappropriate filing, touching, intercourse, or other sexual activities with others.
- Sexual abuse where the victim is unwilling to consent or unable to understand inappropriate sexual behavior or is physically or verbally threatened with sexual activity, including intercourse, fondling, or touching.
- Emotional abuse including a threat of abuse, verbal assault, intimidation, and harassment.
- Unapproved confinement that restrains or isolates the resident.
- Passive negligence when the nursing staff or others withholds the resident's life necessities that could include medical care, shelter, clothing, or food.
- Willful deprivation when the nursing facility denies the resident medical care, drugs, food, shelter, physician assistants, or therapeutic device, or exposes the resident to physical, emotional, or mental harm.
- Financial exploitation where others withhold or misuse the resident's resources.
Residents Most at Risk for Abuse
Abuse, neglect, or mistreatment in a nursing facility is not isolated to just one group inside the home. However, some residents are more susceptible to being abused, neglected, or mistreated including those suffering from Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Without proper supervision, these individuals can elope or wander away from the home or become disoriented and confused. These individuals have an increased risk of experiencing abuse because of certain factors that include:
- These residents have a reduced capacity to communicate with others,
- These patients tend to develop health problems rapidly,
- These resident's experience feeling fearful when others are providing care,
- They display behavioral changes and mood swings that often involve agitation or aggression.
Signs of Abuse or Mistreatment
It is not always easy to recognize that your loved one is being abused and mistreated in the nursing facility. However, a few of the common signs associated with neglect and mistreatment include:
- Malnutrition and dehydration,
- Unexplained bruising, cuts, welts, wounds, or lacerations,
- Severe infections,
- Bone fractures and head injuries,
- Bedsores (pressure sores, pressure wounds, pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers) that have progressed to later stages and revealed bone, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and tissue below the skin,
- The signs of sexual assault that occurs between the resident and nursing home staff members or other residents. The signs include a hypersensitive reaction to criticism, social withdrawal, or the unwillingness to talk openly around specific individuals.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), nearly 1800 nursing home residents die every year from a fall occurring at the facility. Tens of thousands of residents also develop preventable life-threatening bedsores or die from an improper drug administration where the victim is given the wrong dosage, the wrong drug, or someone else's medication.
The nursing staff and administration at a nursing facility is required to provide every resident a clean, safe, and caring environment. Unfortunately, when the nursing home is no longer a safe place for your loved one, they often become victims of mistreatment, abuse, or neglect. With legal intervention, you can hold those responsible for harming your loved one financially accountable to recover your damages.
An attorney can provide legal remedies to ensure your loved one receives the best care by either bringing in an outside medical team to provide care at your loved one's bedside or transferring them to a better facility. Afterward, your lawyer can file documents to initiate a civil lawsuit against all those who mistreated or abused the resident.
Has Your Loved One Suffered From Mistreatment at a Nursing Home?
Violations of patient rights commonly involve situations where a patient has suffered an injury or even death. Our nursing home abuse attorneys represent individuals and families in claims and lawsuits against these facilities. Every case is handled by a team of experienced nursing home lawyers and support staff to ensure that the matter is fully investigated, and your recovery is maximized.
The nursing home abuse attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC understand that your injuries were the result of another's negligence. We have successfully obtained millions on behalf of the victims and their family members to ensure they were adequately compensated to cover their medical expenses, household bills, lost wages, loss of future earnings, pain, suffering, and emotional damage and we can help your family too.
Our legal team encourages you to contact our attorneys today to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation to discuss the merits of your monetary recovery claim. We accept all personal injury cases, wrongful death lawsuits, and nursing home neglect injury claims through contingency fee arrangements. This legal contract postpones the payment of legal services until after we have successfully completed your case through a negotiated settlement or a jury verdict.
Our law firm gets results quickly because we understand you need money now. We proudly offer every client a “No Win/No-Fee” Guarantee, meaning if we are unable to secure financial compensation on your behalf you owe us nothing. All information you share with our law office will stay confidential.
For additional information see the following pages:
- Can I Get Medical Records From the Illinois Nursing Home Where My Mother Was Injured?
- How Long do Chicago Nursing Home Injury Lawsuits Take to Settle or go to Trial?
- How to Select The Best Nursing Home For Your Loved One?
- The Nursing Home Where My Father Was Staying Contacted Me After His Injury And Wants to Ask Me Questions Regarding His Health?
- What Agency Regulates The Nursing Homes to Ensure They Are Providing a Safe Environment?
- What Are Signs of Poor Care in a Nursing Home?
- What Is The Average Payout on an Illinois Nursing Home Injury Case?