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When an individual is in a nursing home for long term care, the nursing home is considered the individual’s home.  Because of the vulnerability of the resident, federal and state laws limit the reasons a resident can be discharged or evicted from the facility or transferred to another. This is to ensure residents are not discharged to unsafe places, in retaliation for violations of their rights, or for discriminatory purposes.

Federal law aNursing Home Medsllows a nursing home to discharge a resident for the following reasons:

1) Discharge is necessary for the resident’s well-being, and the nursing home can no longer provide services that meet the resident’s needs.

2) The resident’s health has improved so nursing home care is no longer necessary.

3) The resident is no longer safe in the nursing home.

4) A doctor or the nursing home’s director determines the person is a danger to other residents.

5) The person fails to pay for services or have services paid for by Medicare or Medicaid.

6) Or, the facility closes.

A nursing home resident cannot be discharged or transferred simply because the source of payment changes.  This means a nursing home cannot discharge a resident who was paying for her long term care costs privately but, after spending her money, becomes eligible for Medicaid. A resident is also safe from discharge if she makes a complaint about the facility for violating her rights or providing inadequate care. Many states, including Florida, provide additional protections for residents who reside in the facility, including additional protections regarding their discharge.  In Florida, this is referred to as the patient’s bill of rights.

All discharges must be in writing and state the reason for discharge or transfer. If a resident believes discharge is inappropriate, she can challenge the discharge by requesting a hearing, in writing, upon receiving the notice of discharge.

In addition, pursuant to federal law, states provide a Long Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) to assist residents in dealing with inappropriate discharges and other violations of a resident’s rights.

For more information about Florida’s LTCO visit ombudsman.myflorida.com.  For more information about Montana’s LTCO visit Montana’s Department of Health & Human Services.