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New York Nursing Home Legal Basics

Written May 5, 2015

Are you or a loved one considering moving into a nursing home in New York? If so, you probably have some apprehension – and some questions, too: What can you expect from the facility? What level of care should you receive? What are your legal rights?

To clear up any confusion, here is some basic information you should know about nursing home laws in New York State:

Legal obligations of nursing homes.
According to federal and state regulations, nursing homes have the following responsibilities:

  • Notification: You must receive a written description of your legal rights, including a description of how the facility protects your personal funds. You must also be fully informed of all facility rules and regulations before being admitted, and you must acknowledge receipt of this information in writing. 
  • Access to information: You must be promptly notified if your room assignment changes, if your roommate assignment changes, or if there is a change to the facility’s visiting hours.
  • Privacy: All staff must maintain your personal and clinical information in strict privacy, and they are prohibited from discussing details about you with other residents. Nursing homes must also provide you with access to privacy for personal care, medical treatment, and visits with guests.
  • Quality of care: You must be provided with access to quality care (which is defined in more detail below).
  • Payment: A nursing home cannot require a third-party guarantee of payment as a condition of admission, expedited admission or continued stay. They must allow you to apply for Medicare and Medicaid benefits and utilize those benefits as forms of payment.

Care and treatment in a nursing home.
Of course, the main reason why people enter nursing homes is to receive quality medical care. That’s why, at the very least, nursing home patients have the legal right to:

  • Receive adequate and appropriate medical care, including nursing, rehabilitation therapies, social work and other professional services for which they have a need
  • Be fully informed by a doctor of any medical diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan
  • Ask questions and to receive a second opinion
  • Refuse medication and treatment
  • Discharge themselves from the facility at their own discretion
  • Choose a personal attending doctor
  • Take an active role in planning for care and treatment and in providing advanced directives (living wills, DNRs, etc.)
  • See any person who gives you medical, social, legal, or other services at any time.

Additional rights for nursing home patients.
All nursing home patients have the federally mandated and regulated right to be treated with dignity and respect; to be free from discrimination; and to be free from abuse and neglect of any kind – verbal, sexual, physical, and mental. You also have the right to make a complaint without fear of retribution.

All patients – including you – are entitled to these basic rights. If you aren’t receiving them, or if you would like to know more about nursing home law in New York, contact the legal experts at Duffy & Duffy today.

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