Nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities, in Vista and throughout San Diego County were the topic of discussion in a recent article in The San Diego Union-Tribune. More specifically, do family members and seniors have any recourse when a skilled nursing facility says it is time to leave? The article presents the following scenario for readers in Southern California to consider: “Your family member, who was sent to a skilled nursing rehabilitation facility after a hospitalization, is told to leave before he/she is ready.” There are many different reasons that a nursing home might tell a patient it is time to leave. In some scenarios, these reasons are legitimate, but in other situations, such actions could rise to the level of nursing home abuse or neglect.
Reasons a Skilled Nursing Facility in Vista Might Tell a Patient to Leave
Why do skilled nursing facilities tell patients it is time to leave? According to the article, there are numerous reasons, and some are better than others. Generally speaking, the following explanations for why your family member needs to leave the facility are not usually sufficient:
- There are no more beds in the facility;
- Medicare will not make any more payments toward your family’s member’s stay here;
- Your family member has reached his or her rehabilitation potential; and/or
- No explanation given.
These kinds of explanations tend to be “delivered in a fashion that seems to leave little room for discussion.” However, you should know that if you are the primary caregiver or even guardian for your elderly family member, you have a right to tell the facility that you refuse to leave. As the article underscores, if you are told your family member needs to leave the facility, “if it seems premature or without adequate planning, and you speak out, the facility cannot discharge unless they prove adequate legal grounds.”
Patients’ Rights at Skilled Nursing Facilities in California
What rights do patients have when a nursing home says it is time to leave? A skilled nursing facility can not force a patient to leave because they do not have custodial beds or Medi-Cal beds remaining. There are only six reasons that federal law allows a skilled nursing facility to discharge a patient, which include the following:
- Facility can not meet the patient’s needs;
- Patient’s health has improved to the point that she does not require the services of the facility;
- Health of other people at the facility would be in danger if the patient remained;
- Safety of other people at the facility would be in danger if the patient remained;
- Patient has not paid the bill after being given “reasonable and appropriate notice”; and/or
- Facility is closing.
While these are legitimate grounds for involuntary dismissal of a patient or resident, it is important to remember that the facility does not have the final say in whether one of the above situations is applicable. To dismiss a patient involuntarily on one of the grounds listed above, the facility must have “adequate evidence” for such a discharge. Otherwise, the involuntary discharge may be unlawful.
Contact a Vista Elder Abuse Lawyer
If you have concerns about an elderly loved one’s health and safety in a nursing home, or if a senior in your family has been involuntarily discharged from a skilled nursing facility in San Diego County, an experienced Vista elder abuse attorney can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm to discuss your situation.
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(image courtesy of Obed Hernandez)