Experienced Chicago Attorneys Protecting the Rights of Nursing Home Residents
We enforce the Patient Bill of Rights for your loved ones in Illinois
Here in Chicago, there are two government acts that outline rights for nursing home residents. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act provides rights for all nursing home residents in Illinois. The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act provides additional rights for residents in Illinois nursing homes that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds.
If you believe your loved one is being denied their rights in their nursing home or long-term care facility, the nursing home abuse attorneys at Gainsberg Law can help. Our legal team has decades of experience protecting the vulnerable population of Chicago when their caretakers fail in their responsibilities. We fight for justice for our clients, including seeking maximum compensation for their losses and injuries stemming from abuse and neglect.
The Patient Bill of Rights in Illinois
By law, Illinois residents of nursing homes have their own bill of rights. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, 210 ILCS 45, was enacted to make sure that nursing home residents understand that the state does care about their safety and does demand that nursing homes provide the right care for seniors who stay there.
Sadly, too many nursing home residents suffer physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse. These rights are meant to help seniors get the correct care and to help them have control over their lives. The rights that are listed in the statute are:
- Right to control their finances. Residents should know that any money the nursing home holds for the resident is solely for the benefit of the resident. Only the resident can direct how it is spent. Any sum over $100 that the nursing home holds must bear interest. The resident is entitled to a quarterly statement.
- Right to personal property. The resident should be able to keep and use his/her own property, including what the resident wears. There should be storage space available for valuables. The only exception is that the nursing home may be able to restrict the clothing a resident wears if there is a medical necessity, which must then be documented.
- Right to choose the resident’s own doctor and treatment. Residents can select their own doctor, provided they pay for the doctor’s services. Residents also have the right to access their medical records, including their diagnosis, prognosis, and treatments. Provided the resident is mentally able, he/she can choose what type of medical treatment they receive, as long as it ordered by the doctor. The resident also has the right to consult with his/her doctor in private.
- Right to control end-of-life treatment. Residents can create a “do not resuscitate” order or living will, which dictates what life-saving measures will be given, if necessary. The nursing home must keep the resident’s document on file.
- Right to mental health re-screenings. Residents admitted for severe mental health problems should be re-screened after 90 days, then six months, and then yearly.
- Right not to be subject to chemical or physical restraints unless there is a medical reason. Any medical reason must be properly documented. Restraints are not to be used to punish the resident
- Right to control the drugs the resident takes. Drugs can’t be given in excessive doses or for long periods unless there is a medical reason. Use of any psychotropic drugs requires the consent of the resident or guardian.
- Right to keep communications private. Residents have the right to keep all communications private, including letters, phone calls, and emails.
- Right to see visitors. The nursing home should allow visitors to meet with the residents and provide space for the visitors during reasonable visiting hours. An exception may apply for medical reasons.
- Right to speak with a social worker or lawyer. Seniors have the right to talk with and meet in person with their attorney or a public agency employee who is trying to help the senior.
- Right to religious exercise. Residents have a right to practice their religion, including attending services of their choice. The nursing home can’t force the resident to attend a service of another faith.
- Right to be discharged. Residents can ask to be discharged. Residents should, as a practical matter, have some place to stay before they leave the nursing home.
- Right to complain. Nursing home residents have the right to air their grievances to the people who run the nursing home or other responsible agencies or parties. A nursing home cannot punish a resident for airing a grievance.
Nursing homes cannot discriminate against the resident and cannot make the resident perform physical labor. Residents also have the right to understand how Medicaid payments work if Medicaid is paying for the nursing home residency.
The Nursing Home Reform Act
The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) was established in 1987 to ensure the highest practical mental, physical, and social wellbeing for nursing home residents. It was designed to enforce quality care and provide certain services to nursing home and care facility residents. The NHRA also established a Bill of Rights for residents.
The Act was put into place as a guideline for nursing homes and facilities that want to receiving funding for Medicare and Medicaid. These facilities are required to meet the criteria outlined in the NHRA, and the state is responsible for certifying nursing homes that comply with the criteria.
The Nursing Home Reform Act establishes the following legal rights for nursing home residents:
- The right to freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect
- The right to freedom from physical restraints
- The right to privacy
- The right to accommodation of medical, physical, psychological, and social needs
- The right to participate in resident and family groups
- The right to be treated with dignity
- The right to exercise self-determination
- The right to communicate freely
- The right to participate in the review of one's care plan, and to be fully informed in advance about any changes in care, treatment, or change of status in the facility
- The right to voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal
If the responsible state agency finds that a nursing home is out of compliance with the requirements of the NHRA, it may impose a variety of penalties, including fines or replacing management.
Nursing homes have a legal and moral obligation to uphold residents' rights and provide the highest level of care possible. However, they often fail to do so. If your loved one's rights aren't upheld and they suffer harm or injury as a result, both you and they have the right to take legal action.
Physical abuse or neglect violates a resident's right to dignity and respect. And not only is this a violation of residents' rights, these can also be a form of personal injury or malpractice. A nursing home resident who's suffered injury or harm can be entitled to damages for medical expenses, losses, pain, suffering, or emotional trauma. If you believe your loved one is suffering from abuse or neglect in their care facility, speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Get in touch with a compassionate Chicago nursing home abuse attorney for help today
When it's time for your loved one to move to a nursing home, you should be able to trust that the facility will treat your family member with the utmost care. However, if you believe that your loved one's rights are being violated and they are suffering harm, the Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers at Gainsberg Law can help. We will fight for the rights of your family. Get in touch with us through our contact form, or by calling 312-600-9585 to schedule a consultation.