Rights and Protections in Nursing Homes

Perhaps you are a resident living in a Medicare or Medicaid-certified nursing home. If so, then you have some rights and protections given to you by federal and state laws. These rights and protections help to make sure that you get the care and services you need. There are many more than we have room for in a single article, so we’ll just take a look at some of the more common. You should also know that nursing homes are required to tell you about your rights and explain them to you in writing in a language you understand. They also have to explain how you should act and what you’ll be responsible for while there. Notification needs to be done either before or when you’re admitted, and also during your stay, and you will have to acknowledge in writing that you understand.

If you have Medicare, you have certain rights and protections that are guaranteed to you, but you also more rights, such as:

  • To be treated with respect
  • To participate in activities
  • Be free from discrimination
  • Be free from abuse and neglect
  • Be free from restraints
  • To make complaints
  • To receive proper medical care

Medical care is a big issue, so let’s spend some time seeing just a quick overview of some of the rights you have regarding this area. You have the right to:

  • Be fully informed about your own total health status in a language you understand.
  • Be fully informed about your medical condition, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements.
  • Be involved in the choice of your doctor
  • Participate in decisions involving your care.
  • Take part in developing your care plan. According to law, nursing homes are required to make a care plan for each resident, and you have the right to take part in it. Family members can also be involved with your permission.
  • To access all your records and reports, including clinical records (medical records and reports) promptly during weekdays. A legal guardian has the right to look at any medical records and make important decisions for you on your behalf.
  • To express any complaints (grievances) you have about care or treatment.
  • Create advance directives according to state law.
  • Refuse to participate in experimental treatments
  • Have your representative and doctor notified when you’ve been injured in an accident and/or need to see a doctor; your physical, mental, or psychosocial status worsens; you have a life-threatening condition.

While this article provides a general overview, if you would like to see the full list of your rights and protections, you can visit the Medicare website: http://www.medicare.gov/

We hope that this has served to be informative and helpful in making you aware of some of the rights that you have, and that knowing them will help to ease any distress or anxiety you or a loved one might be feeling over the prospect of going to a nursing home.