• Leitner Varughese

Updated Protection for Nursing Home Residents; Leitner Varughese Fights for the Elderly

In the past months, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued several updates and revisions to the federal nursing home regulations, which added new protections to the 1.9 million nursing home residents in the United States. These regulations are scheduled to be implemented in phases from now through 2019.

The new regulations, however, do not set minimum staffing standards for nurses and certified nursing assistants. Minimim nursing staffing standards have been vehemently opposed by nursing homes and their paid advocacy groups.

As detailed in the New York Times, the revised regulations include the following:

  • ​The regulations strengthen residents’ control over certain decisions important to their daily lives. For example, the rules allow people to receive any visitor they choose (not just relatives) whenever they choose, without restricted hours, as long as visitors don’t disturb other residents.Just having family members around in the evening, when homes have fewer staff members, might improve attention and care, Dr. Castle pointed out.The requirements also allow residents to choose their roommates when both parties agree, making it easier for friends, siblings or same-sex couples to share living quarters. And they require facilities to make meals and snacks available when residents want to eat, not only at predetermined mealtimes.

  • For the first time, nursing homes must take “reasonable care” of residents’ personal belongings and can’t shrug off responsibility for theft or loss by requiring residents to sign waivers. “That’s been a big complaint,” Ms. Grant said.

  • Moving into a nursing home already requires giving up so many possessions that “losing something can be devastating” — especially when eyeglasses, hearing aids or dentures go missing.

  • The regulations call for expanded staff training in preventing elder abuse and in caring for patients with dementia. Dr. Phillips calls the latter critically important; most residents have moderate or severe dementia, Medicare statistics show. The rule also requires a nursing home to designate an infection-control officer and to establish a system to monitor antibiotic use.

  • Long-term-care ombudsmen report frequent complaints of “dumping”: A nursing home sends a resident, often someone whose dementia causes problematic behavior, to a hospital. Then, after she is discharged, the home won’t readmit her. “Once they’re out the door, it’s a lot easier to just evict someone,” Ms. Grant said.

  • The existing regulations provide a lot of protection against being bounced from nursing homes; the new rule extends those protections to someone who’s been hospitalized but intends to return. “That resident has all the rights that go with discharge and can appeal the decision.” Nor can the facility transfer the resident while she is appealing. The rule toughens other kinds of grievance procedures as well.

Leitner Varughese commends the recent actions of the New York State Attorney General in taking a stand against abuse and neglect of our elderly nursing home population.

The attorneys at Leitner Varughese are among New York’s most recognized and respected leaders in the area of nursing home abuse and negligence litigation. Both in and out of the courtroom, our attorneys are leading the charge to establish an environment where substandard care will not be tolerated.

Neglect and abuse come in many different forms. Know some of the major signs:

  • ​Bedsores (also known as pressure ulcers)

  • Falls (resulting in serious injury)

  • Malnutrition

  • Dehydration

  • Choking Incidents

  • Medication Errors

  • Loss of dignity

  • Wrongful death

If you believe that a loved one may have been the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse in New York, please call Leitner Varughese at (212) 671-1110 or (855) LV LAW NY for a free consultation.

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