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Nursing Home Residents Have Rights When It Comes to Discharges

Nursing Home Residents Have Rights When It Comes to Discharges


Many residents and their families are unaware that a resident cannot be forced to leave a facility without 30 days written notice and proper discharge planning.

During Residents’ Rights Month, it is good to summarize the requirements a nursing facility must follow before discharging a resident for any reason, including non-payment.  One of the frequent misconceptions is that a facility can put a resident out for not paying their bill.  This is incorrect.

As protected by both federal and state law, a nursing home resident has the right not to be discharged unless the facility meets certain criteria for cause and for notice.  This is where the law starts, however, that the resident has the right not to be discharged.  In order to initiate a discharge the facility must start the process by first documenting the reasons.  If a facility seeks to discharge a resident for certain behavioral issues, their physician must state in the medical record that the discharge is appropriate.  If the facility seeks a discharge for non-payment for services, the facility still cannot discharge the resident so long as the first Medicaid application is pending.  In addition, the facility must give written notice stating a discharge date 30 days after the written notice is given.  In addition, the individual has a right to a hearing with the department of health.  In that notice, the facility is to provide the place to which they intend to discharge the individual.   Finally, the facility cannot discharge the individual except to a place that can meet the individual’s needs.    New rules will require, as a part of discharge planning for behavioral issues, that the resident’s physician document why the proposed facility meets the individual’s needs.

Unfortunately, some families, fearing their relative will be put on the streets or sent to a homeless shelter, agree to accept the resident into their home, even though they cannot properly care for the resident.  Therefore, it is crucial for residents and families to know the resident’s right not to be discharged except with proper notice to a facility that can meet the resident’s needs.  If a resident or family member is faced with an attempt to improperly discharge the resident, they should call the Pro Seniors’ Ombudsman’s Helpline for assistance at (513) 458-5518.