Moving a loved one to a nursing home is a difficult decision. Understandably, you might have numerous questions about the process and be concerned about your family member’s well-being.
A nursing home should be adequately looking out for its residents and protecting them. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. This is the reason federal and state laws establish the rights of residents in nursing homes.
These laws aim to keep nursing homes accountable for their actions and protect your loved ones should they be mistreated at any point.
If your family member is a resident in a New Mexico nursing home and you suspect neglect or abuse, it’s crucial to contact a New Mexico personal injury lawyer to discuss your family’s options.
Federal Law Protections for Nursing Homes
The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law sets forth a complete set of fundamental rights for nursing home residents. You can find the full legal text at 42 CFR Section 483.
To better understand these rights, here is a look at some highlights from several of these rights as outlined by the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.
The Right to a Dignified Existence
Nursing home residents have the right to be free from abuse and neglect. Their quality of life should be maintained at a minimum or improved. They should feel safe and not worry about the security of their possessions. Their environment should feel like a home, and they should have access to their personal belongings whenever possible. Residents are to be free from physical and chemical restraints. Nursing homes should always treat residents with respect and dignity.
Right to Self-Determination
Residents are entitled to have a say in their health care and providers, as well as their everyday activities and schedules. They should be able to participate in implementing and developing a person-centered plan that incorporates their personal and cultural preferences.
Residents have the right to assist with organizing resident and family group activities. They should have a say in the designation of a representative.
Right to Full Information
Residents also have the right to be fully informed of anything that affects them. Some of these items could include:
- Type of care they will receive;
- Benefits and risks of the proposed treatment;
- A written copy of resident’s rights;
- Written notice of any changes to room and roommates; and
- Contact information for the long-term ombudsman program.
All information and notices should be in a language that the resident can understand, including braille if the resident is blind.
Right to Have Access
Residents have a right to access their personal and medical records. They should be allowed to participate in community, social, and religious activities and events. Residents should have a say in receiving visitors, including whom they want to visit and whom they might want to refuse. Individuals also have the right to access outside people, activities, community members, etc. They also should have access to representatives from the long-term care ombudsman program and the state survey agency.
Right to Raise Grievances
Residents should be free to raise concerns and grievances without fearing retaliation. The nursing home must resolve these grievances and provide a decision in writing if requested. Residents also have the legal right to file a complaint with the long-term ombudsman program if necessary.
Right to Privacy
Nursing home residents have a right to privacy regarding their medical, personal, and financial affairs. For example, residents have a right to privacy during medical treatment and any individual needs. They should also have unrestricted access to contact anyone of their choice.
Rights Regarding Financial Affairs
Residents should be able to manage their own financial affairs when applicable. They must have information about all available services and what each one costs. If the resident has personal funds exceeding $100, the facility should deposit them in a separate interest-bearing account. This amount is lowered to $50 if the resident is receiving Medicaid funding. If requested, the resident is entitled to a quarterly statement. Residents shouldn’t be charged for services that Medicare or Medicaid cover.
Rights During Discharge or Transfer
Residents have the right to appeal any proposed transfer or discharge and not fear being discharged while their appeal is pending. The nursing home must provide a written statement of notice to transfer or release no less than 30 days prior. The notice must include information such as the reason for the move, the effective date, the new location, and the resident’s right to appeal.
Contact a New Mexico Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If you suspect nursing home neglect or abuse or the home is not adhering to the Nursing home Reform Act of 1987, it’s essential to contact a lawyer right away. The legal team at Poulos & Coates, LLP, has more than 70 years of combined legal experience. We primarily focus on medical malpractice, so we understand all the issues that can go wrong in a nursing home.
Contact our office today to schedule a consultation to learn more about your legal options when a nursing home has violated a loved one’s rights.