“Can they do that?” “I don’t think that’s appropriate. Can we do something about it?” For some time now, I have been receiving calls from residents in long term care facilities, and their family members, asking these types of questions. Ultimately, interested parties want to know if there are any legal requirements imposed upon these facilities.
Oftentimes, I swivel my chair to one of the bookcases in my office and look at the two bottom rows, both of which are fully stacked with treatise, legal publications, and other relevant documents that exclusively address resident rights and responsibility party liability.
Although I certainly welcome your calls, I wanted to share with you one place that you could begin your research to determine whether you or a family member is being properly treated in a facility.
Find out for yourself
The Code of Federal Regulations (herein either “the Code” or “CFR”) is a codification of rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government. Title 42 of the Code, Part 483, addresses public health requirements for long term care facilities.
Part 483 specifically addresses, among many other issues, the following:
- Resident rights (§483.10)
- Admission, transfer, and discharge rights (§483.12)
- Resident behavior and facility practices (§483.13)
- Quality of life (§483.15)
- Quality of care (§483.25)
Most of the fundamental questions you have will be addressed, at least in part, in the sections cited above. Section 483.10, as one example, addresses resident rights and specifically provides for what a facility must do regarding issues that range from providing, for inspection, a resident with his or her medical records within twenty four hours of request, to prominently displaying information about how to apply for and use Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
Section 483.12, as one other example, lists the six permissible reasons to discharge a resident from a long term care facility. It is important to note, there are no other reasons for discharge beyond these six, any other purported reason for discharge that is not listed in §483.12 (a)(2) is a violation of Federal law.
6 Reasons for Discharge
- The transfer or discharge is necessary for the resident’s welfare and the resident’s needs cannot be met in the facility
- the transfer or discharge is appropriate because the resident’s health has improved sufficiently so the resident no longer needs the services provided by the facility
- The safety of individuals in the facility is endangered
- The health of individuals in the facility would otherwise be endangered
- The resident has failed, after reasonable and appropriate notice, to pay for (or to have paid under Medicare or Medicaid) a stay at the facility.
- The facility ceases to operate
For those who live in long term care facilities, it is your home and you are entitled to certain rights within it. For those of you who visit a loved one in a long term care facility, if you begin to question whether your loved one is being treated appropriately, simply go online, type into Google “42 CFR 483,” and start getting your questions answered.
A trial attorney who handles these types of matters, can give you lots of help, however, you would be surprised how effective Federal law is when properly cited during discussions with facility administrators and staff.