Nursing Home Abuse: What are Your Rights and Protections When You Have Been Injured?

nursing home abuseIf you are a resident in a nursing home that is certified to receive Medicare or Medicaid funding, you are protected by federal and state laws that were enacted to make sure that you get the quality of care and health services that you require. If you have a loved one who is living in a nursing home, they have the right to be treated with dignity and respect and to be taken care of in a compassionate way that makes them feel safe. If you suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected while they are living in a nursing home, there are steps you can take to protect them and make sure that the responsible party is brought to justice.

Federal rights of nursing home residents

Each nursing facility will have different rules and policies, which they must make known to each resident, but under Medicare there are certain additional rights and protections that are guaranteed to you under federal law which include:

  • Free choice
  • Free from restraints
  • Privacy
  • Confidentiality
  • Accommodation of personal needs
  • Grievances
  • Participation in resident groups and family groups
  • Participation in other activities
  • Examination of survey results
  • Refusal of certain transfers
  • Notice of rights

The federal nursing home resident bill of rights also includes protections for the rights of incompetent residents, protection from the use of pharmacologic drugs, advance notice for transfers and discharges.

Nursing facilities must respect residents’ advance directives, afford each resident access and visitation rights, access to quality care, the protection of the resident’s funds, there must be a limitation on charges in case of Medicaid-eligible individuals, and nursing facilities must post the results of the most recent survey of the facility.

What to do if your loved one shows signs of neglect or injury

Despite this exhaustive list of protections for your loved one, abuse and neglect still occurs every day in nursing homes throughout the U.S. If you are visiting a loved one and they complain about the treatment by the staff, investigate their complaints with the facility’s administrator. If you see signs of physical abuse such as bruises or scratches you can report it to the local police if you believe that a crime has been committed, and you should speak with a dedicated nursing home abuse lawyer right away.