Nursing Home Residents’ Rights in Washington

Like all patients who receive medical care in Washington State and the remainder of the United States, nursing home residents have a number of protections under the law. The following takes a look at nursing home residents’ rights and what to do if those rights have been violated. If you need legal help, you should consult with a Washington nursing home abuse and neglect attorney immediately.

The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act 

In the 1980s, there were a number of reported and unreported incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect. As such, in 1987, the United States Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act. The objective of the Act was to ensure that all nursing home healthcare professionals were held to a high standard of patient care and that all nursing home residents receive the highest quality of care possible. As part of the Nursing Home Reform Act, a residents’ bill of rights was formed. Today, a nursing home will receive federal funding from Medicaid and Medicare only if they are in compliance with the act, according to AARP.org.

Residents’ Rights Under the Act

Medicare.gov names the following as residents’ rights outlined by the Nursing Home Reform Act.

  • The right to be treated with dignity and respect
  • The right to be informed of nursing home services and fees
  • The right to manage money or make the decision about who will manage one’s money
  • The right to privacy
  • The right to keep and use personal belongings
  • The right to be informed about medical conditions and medication
  • The right to refuse treatment or medication
  • The right to choose own schedule
  • The right to an environment that maximizes comfort

It is required by law that a nursing home provide a resident with a printed copy of the rights enumerated above.

What happens when a resident’s rights are violated?              

While nursing homes have a legal obligation to uphold residents’ rights under the law and to provide a high level of care as a health care clinic, sometimes nursing homes fail to do so. If a nursing home resident’s rights are violated and the resident suffers harm as a result, then the resident and his or her loved ones have the right to take legal action.

For example, nursing home abuse or neglect – physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, fraud and financial exploitation – violate the first right to dignity and respect. In addition to a violation of residents’ rights, the above violations are forms of medical malpractice, which can be punished in a civil action.

By filing a civil suit for damages, a nursing home resident whose rights have been violated may be entitled to damages for medical expenses, financial losses, pain, suffering, emotional trauma and more. If you are the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect or if you believe that your elderly loved one’s nursing home staff is violating his or her rights, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible.

Stand Up for Your Rights as a Nursing Home Resident Now!

Federal law explicitly outlines rights to which a nursing home resident is entitled. If those rights have been violated, then you should speak with an attorney about filing a civil action for damages. If you’re considering filing a medical malpractice claim for damages against a nursing home, remember that the statute of limitations for doing so is three years, according to Washington Code Section 4.16.080. At Ron Meyers & Associates PLLC, our attorney can help file your claim for damages today. If you’re ready to meet with an attorney who will advocate for your rights, call us now at 360-459-5600.