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The Bill Of Rights For Nursing Home Residents

Bill of Rights
October is Residents’ Rights Month. Brown & Barron, a Baltimore-based law firm specializing in nursing home law, is joining the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care is encouraging every nursing home facility to create awareness and encourage the nursing home industry. They should focus on dignity, respect, and the value of each individual resident. If you or your loved one is a nursing home resident, you should know the official Bill of Rights for Nursing Home Residents. Enacted as Maryland law in October of 2019, these rights are not just suggestions. Any violation of these rights can cost the nursing home up to $10,000 per incident in fines and can be grounds for legal damages, if the violation causes an injury or death. These may seem like common sense rules, but sadly, they represent a comprehensive list of the most common ways nursing homes fail to meet their responsibility to the safety and dignity of residents.

Basic Rights of Patients in Comprehensive Care or Extended Care Facilities

(MD Code, Health – General, § 19-343)

  1. The right to be treated with consideration, respect, and full recognition of human dignity and individuality;
  2. The right to receive treatment, care, and services that are adequate, appropriate, and in compliance with relevant State and federal laws, rules, and regulations;
  3. The right to privacy;
  4. The right to be free from mental and physical abuse;
  5. The right to notice, procedural fairness, and humane treatment when being transferred or discharged from a facility;
  6. The right to participate in decision making regarding transitions in care, including a transfer or discharge from a facility;
  7. The right to expect and receive appropriate assessment, management, and treatment of pain as an integral component of the patient’s care;
  8. The right to be free from physical and chemical restraints, except for restraints that a physician authorizes for a clearly indicated medical need;
  9. The right to receive respect and privacy in a medical care program; and
  10. The right to manage personal financial affairs.

Nursing home residents have many rights beyond this list, but if you believe a nursing home has violated any of these rights, you should take action. Here are some steps you can take if you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect.

  1. File a complaint with the nursing home administrator:
    Call the nursing home and ask to speak with the administrator, and let them know you are filing a formal grievance. Nursing homes are required to have a procedure for handling complaints. The nursing home must respond to your complaint within 30 days under 42 CFR § 483.10.
  2. Contact your local ombudsman:
    If you have a complaint against a nursing home, the Maryland Ombudsman Program is a valuable advocate for issues pertaining to long-term care (LTC) facilities, including nursing homes, board/care homes, and assisted-living facilities. The service is free. An ombudsman is a civil servant trained to resolve problems related to the health, safety, welfare, and rights of individuals who live in LTC facilities. The services provided by the ombudsman are free and confidential. An ombudsman will help to investigate and resolve any LTC issue with the help of the resident or on their behalf. For a Maryland ombudsman in your county, click here.
  3. File a complaint with the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ):
    The OHCQ investigates complaints against nursing homes. Contact OHCQ at 410-402-8015, toll-free 877-402-8218 to file a complaint.
  4. Retain an attorney that specializes in nursing home abuse & neglect:
    When nursing homes are at fault, they will do everything in their power to protect the business, making it nearly impossible to get a straight answer. In these instances, you can contact a law firm that specializes in nursing home law. Our lawyers understand the complex set of rules that nursing homes must follow to ensure the well-being of residents. The sad truth is that nursing homes often break these rules, resulting in preventable injuries and deaths. We have the experience and methods to uncover the truth. When we get involved, you get the answers and the justice your family deserves.

Medicare/Medicaid Bill of Rights

Maryland state law protects the rights of people who are patients in comprehensive care or extended care facilities. Also, every nursing home that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding is subject to the federal laws that protect residents in these facilities. 

It does not matter if the person who suffers an injury was a Medicare, Medicaid, or private pay patient. As long as the nursing home has certification from Medicare and or Medicaid, the facility must follow the federal regulations that grant rights and protections to all residents.

Maryland guidelines are similar to the federal laws. The Medicare/Medicaid Bill of Rights says that nursing home residents also have these rights:

  • The resident has the right to make their own schedule, decide when they get up in the morning, when they go to bed, and when they eat their meals. The facility is not allowed to refuse food to a resident who was not present during the time that the nursing home scheduled a particular meal.
  • The nursing home cannot force residents to participate in activities and cannot refuse to let a particular resident participate in the activities of their choosing. The facility must provide a program of activities designed to meet the needs of the residents. Merely “parking” residents in front of the television in a common room is not sufficient.
  • Nursing homes are not required to accept everyone who applies, but denying a place to a person who applies to become a resident must not have its basis in illegal discrimination. Nursing homes must follow all applicable civil rights laws. The facility is not allowed to treat a person differently from other residents based on religion, national origin, race, color, age, or disability.
  • The Maryland law protects residents of nursing homes from mental and physical abuse. The Medicare/Medicaid Bill of Rights includes those rights and has additional protections from verbal abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. When a nursing home suspects any violation, mistreatment, or injury of unknown origin of a resident, they must investigate and report to the appropriate authorities all such incidents within five working days.
  • Residents of a Medicare and/or Medicaid-certified long-term care facility have the right to make complaints to the nursing home staff or to anyone else without fear of retaliation. The nursing home must take action on the complaint promptly.
  • The nursing home must contact your physician and the person you designate as your legal representative or an involved relative if you need medical treatment from an injury, need a significant change in your treatment, have a severe medical complication or condition, you start to deteriorate physically, mentally, or psychologically, or the nursing home plans to transfer or discharge you.
  • The facility must provide a written disclosure of all the services the nursing home provides and the fees for those services, including fees they charge to others, like Medicaid or Medicare. The nursing home cannot charge an entrance fee to Medicare or Medicaid patients.

Call Brown & Barron Today to Discuss Your Nursing Home Abuse Case

The Brown & Barron law firm works to hold long-term care facilities responsible when they harm residents through carelessness or negligence. We believe that everyone who lives in a nursing home deserves to get treated with respect, dignity, and basic kindness. 

In the spirit of Residents’ Rights Month, we will be discussing the rights of nursing home residents on our blog throughout October. If you or your loved one got hurt at a nursing home because of a violation of the Nursing Home Bill of Rights or from some other form of negligence, you can contact us for help and a free, no-obligation consultation. We fight to get our clients all the money damages they deserve.