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To Avoid Nursing Home Negligence, Know Your “Rights”

To Avoid Nursing Home Negligence, Know Your “Rights”


Making the decision to admit a loved one to a nursing home can be an agonizing experience. We are tempted to think of the care rendered by such facilities as impersonal and vastly inferior to that which we would provide to our loved one at home. This is not always true, of course. It is an undeniable fact, however, that the resources and attention offered by these facilities are often being stretched beyond the limits of what is safe. As life expectancy increases, incidents of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have commensurately risen as well. Population in the nation’s nursing homes has therefore swollen in recent times. Most alarmingly, perhaps, is that these numbers are projected to dramatically increase over the course of the next several decades. Our seniors find themselves at increased risk while a patient at these facilities. The best guard against neglect is to “know your rights.” Massachusetts General Laws c. 111 section 70E provides a “bill of rights” that protects every patient. While the statute is long and comprehensive, several provisions are particularly helpful to nursing home patients.

Massachusetts General Laws c. 111 section 70 E provides, in part:

Every patient or resident of a facility shall have the right:

*to privacy during medical treatment or another rendering of care within the capacity of the facility;

*to prompt life-saving treatment in an emergency without discrimination on account of economic status or

source of payment and without delaying treatment for purposes of prior discussion of the source of payment unless such delay can be imposed without material risk to his health, and this right shall also extend to those persons not already patients or residents of a facility if the said facility has a certified emergency care unit;

* to informed consent to the extent provided by law;

* upon request, to obtain from the facility in charge of his care the name and specialty, if any, of

the physician or other person responsible for his care or the coordination of his care;

*to the confidentiality of all records and communications to the extent provided by law;