Nursing Home Residents’ Rights
By Rick Law, founder and managing partner of Law Elder Law in Aurora, Illinois. At LEL, we know that the world has changed. Thankfully, we can help; We make the complex easy to understand. The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act lays out the rights of the residents. Under the federal act, a nursing home facility is required to protect and promote the rights of each resident, including, but not limited to the following rights:
- The resident has the right to exercise rights as a resident of the facility and as a citizen or resident of the United States. This means the resident is free to make financial and medical decisions.
- The resident has the right to be free of interference, coercion, discrimination, and reprisal from the facility in exercising those rights.
- In the case of a resident adjudged incompetent under the laws of a state by a court of competent jurisdiction, the rights of the resident are exercised by the person appointed under state law to act on the resident’s behalf.
- In the case of a resident who has not been adjudged incompetent by the state court, any legal-surrogate designated in accordance with state law may exercise the resident’s rights to the extent provided by state law.
- The facility must inform the resident both orally and in writing in a language that the resident understands of the resident’s rights and all rules and regulations governing resident conduct and responsibilities during the stay in the facility.
- The resident or legal representative has the right upon an oral or written request to access all records pertaining to the resident, including current clinical records within 24 hours (excluding weekends and holidays); and after receipt of records for inspection, to purchase at a cost not to exceed the community standard photocopies of the records or any portions of them upon request and two working days advance notice to the facility.
- The resident has the right to be fully informed in language that the resident can understand of total health status, including but not limited to, medical condition.
- The resident has the right to refuse treatment, to refuse to participate in experimental research, and to formulate an advance directive.
- The facility also must inform residents that are entitled to Medicaid benefits, in writing, at the time of admission to the nursing facility or when the resident becomes eligible for Medicaid of the items and services that are included in nursing facility services under the state plan and for which the resident may not be charged; those other items and services that the facility offers and for which the resident may be charged, and the amount of charges for those services; and inform each resident when changes are made to the items and services specified above.