Many residents of nursing homes and their loved ones are unaware of the various federal regulations governing the treatment of patients/residents in nursing homes. These regulations were implemented to ensure that nursing homes provide a minimum standard of care for its patients/residents. Residents of nursing homes and their loved ones should familiarize themselves with these regulations in order to ensure that the nursing home they have selected or are considering to select is currently meeting the minimum standard of care. In the event that a nursing home does not meet these minimum standards of care and a resident is injured as a result, then that resident or his/her loved one(s) should consider contacting a lawyer who specializes in nursing home litigation to find out what legal remedies are available to obtain compensation. The following is a summary of the “Top 10” regulations applicable to all nursing homes with respect to the minimum standard of care they are required to provide to their residents:

1. Upon a verbal or written request, the resident must be given access to all records pertaining to himself/herself, including medical records, within 24-hours (excluding weekends and holidays) and the resident must be given copies of those records within two working days after making a request for the copies of the records.

2. During the course of a stay paid for by Medicare or Medicaid, a facility may not charge a resident for nursing services, dietary services, activity programs, room/bed maintenance services or routine personal hygiene items.

3. The resident has the right to choose his/her own personal doctor to treat them and must be fully informed in advance about any care and treatment that may affect the resident’s well-being.

4. A resident has the right of freedom from any physical or chemical restraints imposed for purpose of discipline or the facility’s convenience, and not required to treat the resident’s medical symptoms.

5. A resident has the right to be provided with an acceptable quality of life, dignity, social activities, and a clean living space, including a clean bed and bath.

6. The facility must assess any new resident and develop a care plan for that resident within seven (7) days of the admission of the resident. The facility must ensure that their residents receive proper treatment and assistive devices to maintain vision and hearing abilities, including making appointments for same and transporting the resident to and from vision and hearing impairment treatment providers.

7. Based on the comprehensive assessment of a resident, the facility must ensure that any resident who enters the facility without pressure sores or ulcers does not develop pressure sores or ulcers unless the individual’s medical condition demonstrates they were unavoidable. Any resident having pressure sores or ulcers must receive the necessary treatment for them to promote healing, prevent infection and prevent new sores from developing.

8. A facility must have sufficient nursing staff to provide nursing and related services to attain and maintain the highest practical, physical, mental and social well-being of each resident. Unless an exception has been granted, this includes the facility providing a licensed nurse to serve as a charge nurse during each shift and provide the services of a registered nurse for at least eight (8) consecutive hours a day, seven (7) days a week.

9. A facility must provide each resident with a nourishing, palatable, well-balanced diet that meets the daily nutritional and special dietary needs of each resident. The facility must provide a qualified dietitian either full-time, part-time, or on a consultant basis and the facility must employ sufficient support personnel competent to carry out the functions of the dietary service.

10. The facility must provide specialized rehabilitative services to those residents who need them, including, but not limited to, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy and mental health rehabilitative services for mental illness and mental retardation.

For further information concerning the federal regulations governing a resident’s rights in a long-term nursing home facility or to speak with a lawyer knowledgeable of these rights, please visit www.robsheltonlaw.com or call 1-888-761-7204 to speak with a lawyer at the Shelton Law Group.