Seattle Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Information is a powerful tool. If you or a loved ever need nursing home care, it is vitally important to KNOW YOUR RIGHTS.
In 1987 Congress enacted the Nursing Home Reform Act, establishing resident’s rights in all Medicaid and Medicare certified nursing homes in the U.S. In 1994, Washington extended these rights to all residents living in boarding homes, assisted living facilities, state veteran’s homes, and adult family homes.
Washington has passed a law for the protection of vulnerable adults who have been abused, neglected, abandoned, or exploited. This law allows vulnerable adult to sue individuals or companies providing long-term care and to receive compensation for damages, costs, and attorney’s fees. The suit can be brought by the vulnerable adult, a family member, or representative, and can be maintained after the death of the abused or neglected person.
Know Your Rights under Federal and State Nursing Home Laws
RIGHT TO BE FULLY INFORMED
- Be informed of all services available as well as the charge for each service;
- Have a copy of the nursing home’s rules and regulations, including a written copy of resident rights;
- Be informed of the address and telephone number of the State Ombudsman, State survey agency office, and other advocacy groups;
- See the state survey reports of the nursing home and the home’s plan of correction;
- Be notified in advance of any plans to change their room or roommate;
- Daily communications in the resident’s language; and
- Assistance if they have a sensory impairment.
RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN THEIR OWN CARE
- Receive adequate and appropriate care;
- Be informed of any changes in their medical condition;
- Participate in their assessment, care-planning, treatment, and discharge;
- Refuse medication and treatment;
- Refuse chemical and physical restraints; and
- Review their medical record.
RIGHT TO MAKE INDEPENDENT CHOICES
- Make independent personal decisions, such as what to wear and how to spend free time;
- Reasonable accommodation of their needs and preferences by the nursing home;
- Choose their own physician;
- Participate in community activities, both inside and outside the nursing home; and
- Organize and participate in a Resident Council or other resident advisory group.
RIGHT TO PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY
- Private and unrestricted communication with any person of their choice, including the right to send and receive unopened mail, have access to stationary, postage, and writing implements; and reasonable access to the use of a telephone where calls cannot be overheard.
- Privacy in treatment and in the care of their personal needs; and
- Confidentiality regarding their medical, personal, or financial affairs.
RIGHT TO DIGNITY, RESPECT, AND FREEDOM
- Be treated with the fullest measure of consideration, respect, and dignity;
- Be free from mental and physical abuse, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion, and physical and chemical restraints; and
RIGHT TO THE SECURITY OF POSSESSIONS
- Manage their own financial affairs;
- File a complaint with the State survey and certification agency for abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of their property if the nursing home is handling their financial affairs; and
- Be free from charge for services covered by Medicaid or Medicare.
RIGHTS DURING TRANSFER AND DISCHARGE
- Right to remain in the facility unless a transfer or discharge:
- Is necessary to meet the resident’s welfare
- Is appropriate because the resident’s health has improved and the resident no longer requires nursing home care;
- Is needed to protect the health and safety of other residents or staff; or
- Is required because the resident has failed, after reasonable notice, to pay the facility charge for an item or service provided at the resident’s request.
RIGHTS DURING TRANSFER AND DISCHARGE
- Receive thirty day notice of transfer or discharge. The notice must include the reason for transfer or discharge, the effective date, the location to which the resident is transferred or discharged, a statement of the right to appeal, and the name, address, and telephone number of the state long-term care ombudsman; and
- A safe transfer or discharge through sufficient preparation by the nursing home.
RIGHT TO COMPLAIN
- Present grievances to the staff of the nursing home, or to any other person, without fear of reprisal;
- Prompt efforts by the nursing home to resolve grievances; and
- Complain to the survey agency and ombudsman program.
RIGHT TO VISITS
- Immediate access by a resident’s personal physician and representatives from the state survey agency and ombudsman programs;
- Immediate access by their relatives and for others “subject to reasonable restriction” with the resident’s permission; and
- Reasonable visits by organizations or individuals providing health, social, legal, or other services.
RIGHT TO EXERCISE RIGHTS
- The resident has the right to exercise his or her rights as a resident of the facility and as a citizen or resident of the United States and the state of Washington.
- Right to be free of interference, coercion, discrimination, and reprisal from the facility in exercising his or her rights.
- No long-term care facility shall require or request residents to sign waivers of residents’ rights, or to sign waivers of potential liability for losses of personal property or injury.
Attorney Joanne R. Werner, R.N., M.S., J.D., represents clients throughout Washington State, including King County, Pierce County, Spokane County, Whatcom County, and Yakima County and the communities of Seattle, Bellingham, Spokane, Tacoma, Yakima, Seattle and Puget Sound area.