“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members,” Gandhi once said. Nursing home residents are, in many ways, among the most vulnerable members of society. Though some of them may enter the home with a degree of personal wealth, the very reason they are there is because of physical weakness of various kinds.
To safeguard nursing home residents, both federal and North Carolina state law contain certain protections. Despite these protections for nursing home residents’ rights, however, they still frequently suffer injuries due to nursing home abuse and neglect.
Federal law sets forth a list of nursing home residents’ rights and requires that all nursing homes post these rights and provide copies to residents upon admission. The rights include:
• The right to be treated with dignity and respect
• The right to have written information regarding services and fees before admission
• The right to personal privacy and the use of personal belongings as long as it does not endanger others
• The right to control medical care and to choose doctors
• The right to be free from physical and mental abuse
• The right to handle financial affairs
• The right not to be discharged from the facility except for their own or other’s welfare or non-payment
North Carolina has a Bill of Rights for Nursing Home Residents. The Bill of Rights mirrors federal law in many respects. The North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services’ Long Term Care Ombudsman Program acts as an advocacy agency for nursing home residents in North Carolina. The Ombudsman Program is designed to help make sure that nursing home residents’ state and federally guaranteed rights are protected. The Ombudsman Program receives and investigates complaints from nursing home residents and their families and works to resolve them.
Unfortunately, many nursing homes do not respect residents’ rights. Many injuries still occur in nursing homes, despite the legal protections. Nursing home residents often suffer from abuse or neglect. Some of the most common nursing home injuries are:
• Bed sores
• Injuries from physical abuse such as bruises and scratches
• Injuries from sexual abuse
Nursing homes house some of the most vulnerable members of society. Laws exist to protect those who live in nursing homes, but residents still too often suffer injuries caused by negligence or misconduct. If someone in your family has been injured in a nursing home, talk with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you assert your legal rights.