This week, many are no doubt hearing about the case in California where a nurse refused to perform CPR on an 87-year-old woman who later died.
The woman was a resident at an independent living facility which was also attached to a nursing home. That difference was key in the woman's denial of care. Nursing homes have a higher standard of care than an apartment facility for the elderly.
The incident leads many to ask: What are a patient's rights in a nursing home?
There's a difference between a nursing home and an independent living facility. Residents in a nursing home are in a medical facility and have more protections under the law than those who live in independent care facilities.
Here are some rights and protections afforded to nursing home residents in Georgia:
- Respect, dignity, and overall well-being. The nursing home must provide services to help each resident attain or maintain the highest practicable levels of physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being. They must be free to make their own independent decisions.
- Proper care. A resident's ability to bathe, dress, groom, transfer, walk, and communicate must not decline unless it is medically unavoidable, according to the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. In the event that a resident can't care for himself, he must be given proper care. Each resident has the right to make choices about his or her care.
- Privacy. A nursing home patient has a right to privacy. This means privacy in communications and the right to use one's own belongings.
- Services and fees. The nursing home must provide details on which services are provided and which ones come at an additional charge. This must be provided to the patient in a conspicuous manner.
- Informed consent. Residents always have the right to be informed about their medical condition. They are allowed to ask questions and have their questions answered. They must be given accurate information about their medical condition.
- Financial independence. A nursing home patient is not obligated to give the nursing home financial power of attorney. A financial power of attorney drafted before entering the facility would help avoid any such issues.