Nursing Home Abuse:

Nursing Home Reform Act

The Nursing Home Reform Act, passed in 1987, provides specific protections and rights to nursing home residents under Federal law.  It governs the expected responsibilities of these institutions toward the individuals under their care.  By law, nursing homes are expected to do the following:

  • Employ sufficient nurses and other staff in order to provide nursing and related services.
  • Be administered in a way that enables the nursing home to use resources effectively and efficiently.
  • Within 14 days of admission, perform an initial comprehensive, accurate, standardized, reproducible assessment of each resident's functional capacity. After significant changes in the resident's physical or mental status and/or at least once every 12 months, perform another such an assessment.
  • Develop comprehensive individualized care plans for residents. Care plans must include measurable objectives and schedules to meet each resident's medical, nursing, mental, and psychosocial needs as identified in the comprehensive assessment discussed above. The care plan must be developed within 7 days after completion of the comprehensive assessment. It must detail the services that are to be provided. The care plan must also be periodically reviewed and revised by a team of qualified persons after each assessment.
  • Provide pharmaceutical services (including procedures that assure the accurate acquiring, receiving, dispensing, and administering of all drugs) to meet the needs of each resident.
  • Provide supervised medical care by a physician. The nursing home must provide or arrange for the services of a physician on a 24 hour per day basis in case of an emergency.
  • Prevent the deterioration of a resident's ability to bathe, dress, groom, transfer and ambulate, toilet, eat, and speak or otherwise communicate.
  • Provide necessary services and assistance in order to maintain good nutrition, grooming, and personal and oral hygiene if the resident suffers from any impairment from performing daily living activities.
  • Ensure that residents do not develop pressure sores. If a resident has pressure sores, the nursing home must provide the necessary treatment to promote healing and prevent infection and development of new sores.
  • Provide treatment and services to incontinent residents to restore as much normal bladder functioning as possible and to prevent urinary tract infections.
  • Ensure that residents receive proper treatment and any devices to maintain hearing and visual abilities.
  • Ensure that residents receive adequate supervision and assistive devices to prevent falls.
  • Ensure that residents maintain acceptable parameters of nutritional status, such as body weight and protein levels.
  • Provide residents with enough fluid to maintain hydration and health.
  • Prevent medication errors.
  • Care for residents in a way that promotes maintenance or enhancement of their quality of life.
  • Promote resident care in a way and in an environment that enhances each resident's dignity and respect in full recognition of individuality.
  • Ensure that residents can choose activities, schedules, and health care consistent with individual interests, assessments, and plans of care.
  • Maintain clinical records on each resident in accordance with accepted professional standards and practices that are complete, accurate, accessible, and systematically organized.

Nursing homes offer a service to their residents.  Fortunately, this service is standardized by law to prevent nursing home negligence and abuse.  If you or your loved one are receiving treatment inconsistent with the Nursing Home Reform Act, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer to protect your rights.