If you are hurt while living in a Nursing home you have rights. The Florida legislature, in their fight against elder abuse, and especially against nursing home abuse, created a Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights. The law forces Nursing Homes to provide quality care. The primary goal is to avoid nursing home neglect. These laws also help prevent assisted living neglect as well. Every nursing home resident, every family member, every caregiver, and every Nursing Home administrator MUST be familiar with these laws. I guarantee every elder care attorney and all of us nursing home neglect lawyers know these rights by heart. Your knowledge of your nursing home resident rights will help you and/or your loved one avoid being abused, neglected, or violated in a Nursing Home.
There are 32 rights in all. But there are a few are on the top hit list. You’d be surprised how many get violated. Here are the top 9 reasons nursing homes get sued for big dollars:
Reason 1– Residents have the right to private and uncensored communication. This includes the ability to send and receive mail privately. In other words, the mail must remain unopened until the resident opens it. You must also be given access to a telephone. You are guaranteed the right to have anyone visit and you are allowed to leave the nursing home whenever you want, even to enjoy overnight visits out of the home with friends and family. Remember, it’s a nursing home – not a prison. (3/32)
Reason 2– Residents have the right to participate in social, religious, and community activities – as long as they don’t interfere with other residents. While you can’t celebrate by creating a pyre to some demon god in the lobby, but they can’t stop you from lighting Chanukah candles or putting up Christmas lights in your room. (9/32)
Reason 3- You are allowed to review the state or federal inspection reports. This is a biggie! Don’t be scared to ask for that report. Read it. If you or your loved one are in a nursing home, you’d be foolish not to review the reports every single year! (10/32)
Reason 4- Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you’re not still sharp. You retain the right to manage your own financial affairs. If you’re not able to do that, then you can allow the nursing home to control a pot of funds, but they must give you a quarterly accounting of all transactions made on behalf of the resident. This financial relationship is solely for the benefit of the resident. The facility is not permitted to require any resident to deposit funds with the facility. Always insist on your schedule to accounting to make sure 100% of the money is being spent on you. (11/32)
Reason 5– This may seem simple, but it isn’t. We are often called when a loved one who is residing in a Nursing Home has a terrible injury. These rights don’t stop the injuries that lead to lawsuits. They give you, the resident or the loved one, the capacity to correct wrongs before they happen. So remember, information is power. Number 13 is the right to be informed about your medical condition. That means consultations, reviewing medical reports and being given accurate information on the nature, extent and cause of all conditions. Not every injury is caused by negligence, but bedsores, broken bones and failed diagnosis are all endemic of a system that shuts residents out on their own medical condition. Don’t let this happen. (13/32)
Reason 6- You not only have the right to medical information, but you also have the right to refuse medication or treatment. This is your life and you can run it in the way you feel is best. (16/32)
Reason 7- Here is another biggie: you retain the right to receive adequate and appropriate healthcare services, as well as protective and support services; this includes social services, mental health services, and therapeutic and rehabilitative services. This is another part of these rights that get violated alongside an actual physical injury. (17/32)
Reason 8- The nursing home may not dictate who you see for your doctor, or who you use for your pharmacy. Use a doctor you trust and a pharmacy that keeps your medical costs low. You were given this right, not only by the State of Florida but by Title XIX of the Social Security Act. (24/32)
Reason 9– The most important right is your right to protect yourself. Florida Statutes Statute Section 400.023 gives all residents the RIGHT TO PURUSE LEGAL ACTION for NEGLIGENCE and/or any other violation of the 32 rights granted by Florida’s law. You can sue for a direct violation or even a “vicarious” liability situation where a 3rd party is hired by the nursing home who then hurts a resident (either intentionally or negligently!) The nursing home is vicariously liable for any claim of personal injury or wrongful death of a resident arising from such negligence or violation of rights. (32/32)
Every nursing home in Florida must adopt these rules. They must publish a statement of the Resident Rights and respect their residents in accordance with the provisions in their statement.
Keep in mind: there are more rights! There is also a short and strict “SOL” or statute of limitations, so don’t wait. If you have any questions contact a knowledgeable nursing home malpractice attorney immediately.