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Understanding the Laws and Regulations Related to Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Posted in Nursing Home Negligence on May 26, 2023
Nursing homes play a crucial role in providing specialized care for seniors who require assistance with their daily activities and medical needs. However, amidst this responsibility, there have been alarming reports of abuse and neglect within these facilities.
To address this pressing issue, legal frameworks and regulations have been established to protect the rights and safety of nursing home residents. There are laws at both the state and federal levels that are designed to prevent nursing home abuse and provide legal remedies for survivors of this mistreatment.
Federal Nursing Home Abuse Laws
Since the 1960s, the federal government has passed multiple laws to protect residents of long-term care facilities and improve conditions in nursing homes nationwide. These facilities must meet specific standards of care or face significant penalties, which may include fines or closure.
Several federal regulations address nursing home abuse and neglect, including:
- The Nursing Home Reform Act: Enacted in 1987, the Nursing Home Reform Act establishes guidelines for nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. This law defines minimum care standards and a bill of rights for residents, which includes the right to privacy, to proper care and treatment, and to voice concerns without harassment.
- The Elder Justice Act: Enacted in 2010, the Elder Justice Act is specifically designed to address elder abuse and neglect. This law requires nursing home staff members to report incidents of abuse and establishes a background check database.
- The Older Americans Act: This law is a group of regulations that establishes the right to certain services for elderly people. The Older Americans Act supports programs like elder abuse prevention, legal resources, meal and medication delivery, and at-home care services.
Nursing Home Abuse Laws in Washington State
In Washington, several regulations are designed to prevent abuse and neglect in nursing homes and protect victims from further harm. Multiple agencies oversee these laws, including the Washington State Legislature Abuse of Vulnerable Adults Acts, the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, and the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.
As part of this initiative, Washington has established a Patient Bill of Rights that apply to all nursing homes, long-term care facilities, boarding homes, veterans’ homes, and adult family homes. These rights include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The right to receive adequate personal and medical care
- The right to make personal decisions
- The right to be treated with respect and dignity
- The right to live free of physical and mental abuse
- The right to file a complaint if abuse or neglect occurs
- The right to be free from coercion or discrimination
What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
If you or a loved one are experiencing abuse or neglect in one of these facilities, it is critical to report the incident as soon as possible. In Washington, you can report the abuse by calling 1-866-ENDHARM. If the situation is an emergency, call 911 immediately.
Then, speak with a personal injury attorney who specializes in nursing home abuse cases. An attorney can help you or your loved one understand the legal options available and hold the nursing home accountable for the abuse. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case and take your first steps toward justice.