New Resident Rights at Nursing Homes

Grandmother and Daugther with Crane

The federal government has issued the first comprehensive updates to nursing home and other long-term care facility regulations since 1991.

Created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), some provisions became effective last fall with the rest phasing in during 2017 and 2019.

Here's a quick summary of the reforms:

  • Residents' control over certain daily life decisions are strengthened, including being able to select their roommates and having any visitor they choose come at any time, day or night. Meals and snacks must be available when residents want to eat - not just at mealtime.
  • Facilities are responsible for loss or theft of residents' possessions and must take "reasonable care" of personal belongings.
  • Expanded staff training is required in preventing elder abuse and to care for patients with dementia, as Medicare statistics show that most residents have moderate or severe dementia. Facilities must also designate an infection control officer and create a system to monitor antibiotic use.
  • More protections are put in place to prevent residents from being bounced away from the facility. In the past, for example, if a resident whose dementia is problematic must be hospitalized for a period, the nursing home may decline to readmit him. Under the new rules, the resident has the right to appeal the denial without losing his place while the appeal is reviewed.

One important regulation has been stalled - a rule that prohibits facilities from requiring that patients enter binding arbitration agreements, usually at admission. These types of agreements prevent families from suing the nursing home when they believe that the resident has received bad care. Instead, the families are limited to awards through arbitration, which tend to be lower than those reached in court. Of course, arbitration is preferred by the nursing home industry as a less costly alternative to court.

The new regulations remained silent on 2 key nursing home features: Minimum staff-to- patient ratios and requiring facilities to have registered nurses on site 24/7 instead of the current requirement of 8 hours each day. Nursing homes must assess their own staffing based on their resources and residents' needs.

You can read more about the new changes and how they might affect your loved one at Cms.gov.

We Can Help if You Suspect a Loved One Is the Victim of Nursing Home Abuse or Negligence

If you or a family member is a resident in a long-term nursing facility and you suspect any type of negligence or abuse, please contact the Law Offices of Diana Santa Maria, P.A. immediately. Our experienced attorneys will fight for the compensation you deserve. Please call us for a free consultation. Attorneys Diana Santa Maria and Laura D. Dolin, personal injury attorneys in Fort Lauderdale, will fight to secure justice for you and your family. You can reach us at (954) 434-1077 or contact us via the website.