Nursing home residents are typically elderly persons, although some patients are younger with specific rehabilitation needs.  Generally speaking, all nursing home residents have various rights with regards to their living arrangements, medical treatment, and personal needs. 

Some specific rights of nursing home residents include:

  • Rights to Medicaid/Medicare; can’t be asked to leave because they receive such benefits
  • Privacy rights (i.e., in their residential rooms, belongings, clothes, documents, etc.)
  • The right to be informed of their health care coverage and to participate in the planning
  • The right to be free from discrimination, especially when applying for residence
  • Rights to refuse medical treatment
  • Right to be free from physical and mental abuse and neglect
  • Rights to confidentiality of their medical records
  • Rights advanced notice if they will be transferred or removed to another care facility
  • Rights to see relatives and have them visit, so long as it doesn’t interfere with treatment

The main concern with nursing home rights is whether the person’s medical treatment will be interfered with if they assert their rights.  In some cases, the person’s medical concerns may take priority over certain rights.  Most nursing home lawsuits are based on negligence theories.

What are “Bedhold Periods”?

“Bedhold Period” refers to the length of time that the resident’s bed will be held open if they must check out for rehabilitation or therapy.  For example, the resident may have to leave the care home for an extended period of time because they will be in the hospital recovering from a surgery.  If this is the case, then the nursing home needs to address the question of what will happen with the person’s bed or room while they’re away. 

In most cases, bedhold periods will be stated in the contract between the resident and the nursing home.  If the patient is away from the nursing home for a period longer than the bedhold period, there is a chance that they may lose their spot in the home. 

On the other hand, the nursing home can’t loan the person’s bed or room to another person if the bedhold period is still in effect.  They usually must give notice as well if the bedhold period is about to be exceeded.

What if These Rights Have Been Violated?

In the event that the resident’s legal rights have been violated, they can usually sue the nursing home facility in a civil court of law.  They can usually obtain a monetary damages award to reimburse them for their economic losses.  This may include medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other hardships.  In serious cases, an administrative agency may conduct an investigation into the facility’s overall care standards. 

Depending on the facts of the case, the nursing home resident can sue persons or entities that are liable (responsible) for their losses or injuries.  These can include:

  • The owners/operators of the nursing home
  • Staff of the business
  • Professionals such as doctors who visit the facility to provide medical care
  • Guests (intrusion of privacy is common with solicitors who engage in fraud or scams)

One aspect of nursing facility or care home lawsuits is that the plaintiff may often have to hire a representative to assist them with filing documents and other tasks.  This is because the resident may be advanced in age, or may not be mentally capable of making legal decisions.  In such cases, it may be necessary to hire a lawyer and/or use a power of attorney for signing forms.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Advice Regarding the Rights of Nursing Home Residents?

The rights of nursing home residents are very important.  If violated, they can create a situation where the resident needs to file a legal claim in order to have their losses remedied. Such claims can be complex and require the legal expertise of an experienced lawyer.  If you need assistance with filing a nursing home complaint, you should speak with an personal injury lawyer immediately.  Your lawyer can advise you on state laws and can represent you or your loved one during court hearings.