Duluth, MN Nursing Home Abuse
Deciding to place a loved one in a nursing home is one of the most difficult decisions that a person has to make. However, the reality is that taking this step is often in an elderly relative’s best interest, as well-run nursing homes can provide the around-the-clock care that many elderly people require. While most nursing homes are careful to respect the rights of their residents and provide access to proper medical care, a shocking number of nursing home abuse allegations are still made every year. Subsequent investigations often reveal everything from a failure to provide adequate medical treatment to general neglect and outright abuse. Nursing home residents are protected from this type of conduct by both state and federal law, so if you believe that a loved one may be suffering from nursing home abuse and have notified the authorities, it is critical to speak with an experienced Duluth, MN nursing home abuse attorney who can help you hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.
Although nursing homes are given a fair amount of leeway when it comes to how they operate their facilities, they are also strictly regulated under state law, which guarantees residents certain rights related to their medical care, including the right to:
- Receive proper medical and personal care;
- Be given complete and current information about their diagnosis, prognosis, and alternative treatments;
- Participate in planning their own healthcare, which includes discussing treatment plans;
- Refuse treatment, medication, or dietary restrictions;
- Privacy, as it relates to medical consultations, examinations, and treatments, as well as bathing and activities related to personal hygiene; and
- Have their personal and medical records kept confidential.
Resident rights are not limited to issues related to their medical care and treatment, as state law also requires nursing home staff to treat residents with courtesy and respect and are strictly prohibited from mistreating them, which includes intentionally inflicting physical pain for non-therapeutic reasons and using chemical and physical restraints when not necessary to protect from self-injury.
Use of Restraints on Nursing Home Residents
Although Minnesota law does not prohibit the use of restraints on nursing home residents outright, it does limit their use by requiring nursing homes to obtain consent from a resident, his or her family member, or an appointed conservator or healthcare agent before using them. Nursing home staff must also receive a written order from the resident’s attending physician that contains a determination regarding medical symptoms, as well as details about the specific circumstances under which restraints can be used. When nursing homes fail to abide by these rules, they can be held accountable by the state, especially if there is evidence that:
- The use of restraints jeopardized a resident’s health and safety; and
- The facility failed to take reasonable measures to protect the resident’s health and safety.
If you believe that a relative is being illegally restrained by nursing home staff, you should strongly consider consulting with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney who can explain their legal rights and help them seek compensation for their losses.
Nursing Home Bill of Rights
Aside from the right to receive proper medical treatment and to be free of mistreatment by nursing home staff, residents also have the right to:
- Voice grievances without fear of reprisal or discharge;
- Send and receive mail without interference and have access to a telephone;
- Retain and use their personal clothing and possessions;
- Manage their own personal and financial affairs;
- Meet and receive visitors; and
- Participate in religious, political, and community groups without interference.
Residents must be notified of these rights in writing upon admission to a nursing home facility. Nursing home administrators are also required to make facility policies, inspection findings, and additional explanations about patient rights available to residents and their relatives upon request.
Federal Nursing Home Law
State law plays an important role in ensuring that nursing homes respect the rights of their residents. However, federal law is also crucial in protecting the rights of nursing home residents. The Nursing Home Reform Act, which was enacted in 1987, for example, created specific guidelines with which nursing homes must comply in order to receive funding from Medicaid and Medicare. For instance, under federal law, all nursing homes are required to provide each resident with a written care plan that describes his or her medical and psychosocial needs and how those needs will be met. These care plans must be periodically reviewed and revised after any significant change in the resident’s physical or mental condition or at least every three months.
Nursing home facilities are also required to provide or arrange for third parties to provide residents with certain services, including:
- Nursing services;
- Specialized rehabilitative services;
- Pharmaceutical services;
- Dietary services;
- An activities program; and
- Routine and emergency dental services.
If allegations are levied against a nursing home for failing to provide these services or for committing another act of abuse or neglect, the state is required to investigate the accusations, hold a hearing on the results, and issue a written finding. Otherwise, nursing homes must be inspected at least every 15 months by a licensed official. In the event that an investigator determines that a resident was abused or neglected, the victim could be eligible to recover compensation for costs associated with relocating to a new facility, as well as any medical expenses related to the abuse he or she suffered. Finally, many abuse victims are able to recover damages compensating them for the pain and suffering and mental distress that they endured while a resident at the nursing home.
Call Today to Speak with an Attorney who Takes on Nursing Home Abuse Cases in Duluth, MN
If you have evidence that your loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, please call (763) 225-2319 to schedule a meeting with one of the experienced Duluth nursing home attorneys at Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm, LLC who can evaluate your case. You can also reach a member of our legal team by contacting us directly through our website.
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