Bill of Rights Protects from Nursing Home Abuse

When an elderly loved one is no longer able to live on his own, or you don’t have the right tools and resources to give him the care he needs at home, you may look to place him in a nursing home. Because nursing homes are expensive, and you may feel it’s difficult to trust strangers with the care of your elderly parent, you may spend weeks and months looking for elder abusejust the right facility to care for your loved one. Additionally, you may have questions about what to do if your loved one experiences nursing home abuse or neglect.

The Nursing Home Patient Bill of Rights

The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act, under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA), gave nursing home patients a bill of rights. Under this bill of rights, each patient has the right to:

  • Be treated with respect. Often, because elderly people appear frail, others treat them poorly by controlling them or treating them like children. However, every nursing home patient has the right to make his own schedule, participate in any activities he enjoys, and be treated with dignity.
  • Be free from discrimination. Nursing homes can’t accept all applicants, but they must abide by federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on gender, age, sexuality, race, or religion.
  • Be free from abuse or neglect. Some workers in nursing homes have been caught treating patients in an abusive manner or neglecting their needs entirely. Under the bill of rights, patients must always have access to their property and family members, and each patient is entitled to freedom from the following types of abuse:
    • Verbal
    • Sexual
    • Physical
    • Mental
    • Property
  • Be free from restraints. Patients should never be physically restrained or be given chemicals or drugs as a way of restraining them.  
  • Proper medical care. Because medical care is such an important component of keeping an elderly loved one in good mental and physical health, the list of rights in this section is long. Here are a few highlights from that list:
    • Doctors should discuss a patient’s medical care and procedures in language he can understand
    • Patients have the right to complain about or disagree with a doctor
    • Patients can be involved in choosing a doctor
    • Patients can be involved in choosing a course of action or creating advanced directives
    • Patients have the right to keep their family or friends involved

Nursing home abuse and neglect is a real problem, and it’s important to know your rights as a patient or as a person responsible for a nursing home resident. If you have any questions about your legal rights after nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the experienced lawyers at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum by filling out a contact form on our website today.