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12 Things Nursing Homes Aren’t Allowed to Do

Can they do that?

That’s the thought you may have had when hearing about something that happened in a nursing home facility. Maybe it happened to you. Maybe it happened to a loved one.

When something is clearly wrong or makes you uncomfortable, you need to know how to evaluate it. The truth is that South Carolina nursing homes have a long list of regulations and requirements. These regulations come from the South Carolina Nursing Home Bill of Rights, Standards for Licensing Nursing Homes and federal regulations.

12 Things Nursing Homes Are Not Allowed to Do

1. Dictate a resident’s medical care

When appropriate, a nursing home resident, or their legal guardian, has the right to control their medical care. That means choosing their doctor and participating in their own medical care decision. If they have a diagnosis and prognosis of any medical condition, they have the right to receive the information in a way they can understand.

2. Kick a resident out without notice

Residents must have at least 30 days’ notice when they can no longer remain at a facility. There’s an exception when the notice would jeopardize the health, safety, and welfare of residents at the facility. Even with notice, a resident may be removed only for allowed reasons. 

Medical reasons or the welfare of a resident may be a reason for removal. Non-payment of fees is also a qualifying reason, but again, only with the proper notice. The notice must also be given in writing before requiring a resident to change rooms or roommates.

3. Use physical or chemical restraints

Physical and chemical restraints may be used only for medical emergencies. They may not be used for the convenience of care providers. Physical or chemical restraint may be used in an emergency, but it can’t be an emergency of the home’s own making.

The emergency can’t be a result of the care facility’s lack of advanced planning. A physician must order any restraint use. It may be used until less restrictive care can be planned for and arranged.

4. Take over financial management

A resident has the right to manage their finances. It’s a task that they can delegate to the care facility, but only if they choose. If they allow the facility to manage their finances, they must be given an accounting report quarterly.

5. Conduct experiments without consent

A nursing care facility may not require patients to participate in medical experiments. They can offer or allow residents to participate, but they have the right to refuse.

6. Deny privacy to the resident

Entering a nursing home doesn’t mean giving up privacy. A resident has the right to privacy in several contexts. They have the right to security of their personal possessions and health records. They may keep personal property at the facility if there is space for it. Mail may be opened privately. Other communications with friends and relatives may be kept private, too.

Residents may meet with friends and guests privately even if they are discussing the facility or the person’s care. The only exception is when a meeting disrupts resident care or safety. 

7. Keep residents from socializing

A nursing home is a community, and it is a part of the community around it. To truly feel at home, nursing home residents need to be able to interact with each other and those outside the facility. A resident has the right to participate in social and community activities. The resident is the one that chooses what to participate in. There must be a written medical order for them to be kept away for medical reasons.

8. Discriminate against certain groups

Non-discrimination laws apply to nursing home facilities. A nursing home may not discriminate against residents based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, or payment method.

9. Retaliate against residents for raising concerns

When you’re concerned about your care or that of someone else in a nursing home, you need to be able to exercise your rights freely. The facility may not retaliate against a resident if they or their legal representative has exercised their rights under the South Carolina Nursing Home Bill of Rights. The facility may not take any of the following steps in retaliation:

  • Increasing fees and charges
  • Denying or decreasing services
  • Preventing access to health care
  • Denying contact with friends or relatives
  • Removing rights or privileges
  • Forcing a resident to leave a facility
  • Abuse or neglect
  • Embarrassing or threatening the resident

Residents may exercise and enforce their rights without fear of retaliation from the facility or care providers.

10. Operate short-staffed

A nursing home must have enough staff to provide the best physical and psychological care that is practical. The staff must have adequate skill to deliver the care. Nurses must be licensed to practice in South Carolina. Nurse’s aides must also be certified unless they are exempt under a training program. There must also be a medical director who implements policies and procedures and coordinates medical care.

11. Hide or refuse to take reports of accidents

When an accident or an incident occurs, the care facility must make a record of it. Even incidents involving staff members or volunteers must be documented if it happens on the property. An incident report must be created and evaluated for compliance with policies and procedures. Records must be kept for at least six years. 

12. Deny access to religious services

A resident must be given opportunities to participate in the practice of religion. A resident may ask for pastoral counseling. If they ask, the facility must aid in obtaining the counseling. A resident may choose what religion to practice and what services to attend. Reasonable efforts must be made to accommodate a resident’s religious practice, including any dietary restrictions.

Legal Help for Nursing Home Rights Violations

Are you questioning what a nursing home did or did not do? Are you wondering if they can do that or how you can fight back?

Contact our nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys for an informed, confidential review of your situation.

Contact Bobby