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Can a Nursing Home Evict a Resident for Refusing Medical Treatment?

Nursing homes must follow Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulations guaranteeing protection of a resident’s rights. Those rights include the right to safety, humane treatment, and the protection of their human dignity. Under these guidelines, there are only six reasons a nursing home can evict a resident. If a nursing home facility attempts to evict a resident, their grounds must fall under one of these six reasons. Evicting a resident for refusing medical treatment isn’t lawful under CMS regulations unless their refusal results in one of the allowable grounds for nursing home evictions.

When Can a Nursing Home Evict a Resident_

When Can a Nursing Home Evict a Resident?

If a nursing home evicts a resident, the administration must provide at least 30 days’ notice, the eviction notice must be communicated in writing, and in a language that the resident understands. There are only six reasons a nursing home may evict a resident. These include the following:

    • The nursing home cannot meet the resident’s needs for care
    • The resident’s condition has improved and they no longer require care
    • The resident’s presence endangers the safety of other residents
    • The resident’s presence endangers the health of other residents
    • The resident has failed to pay (or apply for Medicaid)
    • The nursing home facility is closing

In addition, the law requires a nursing home to address the issue and attempt to resolve the problem before serving the resident an eviction notice. They may not evict a resident without a plan for care at a new facility, or hospital, or the resident’s release to their home or with a family member. In order to protect your rights and receive legal help, contact a Phoenix nursing home abuse lawyer.

Eviction for Refusing Medical Treatment

Elderly citizens do not lose their constitutionally guaranteed rights when they enter a nursing home facility, including the right to refuse medical treatment. A nursing home cannot evict a resident who refuses medical care even if the refusal makes them more difficult to care for; however, nursing home administrators may lawfully evict a resident if their refusal to accept medical treatment results in a medical condition that is beyond the facility’s ability to provide care. For example, most nursing homes cannot provide ventilator care, bariatric care, or acute psychiatric care for their residents.

If a nursing home evicts a resident because their medical needs exceed the facility’s care abilities they must document the specifics in the patient’s records including the following:

    • The resident’s medical needs that the facility cannot meet
    • What the care team has done to attempt to meet those needs
    • What services the new facility offers that will meet the resident’s needs

An eviction may not be based solely on the resident’s decision to refuse medical treatment, but a nursing home may evict a resident whose refusal causes care needs the facility cannot meet.

What if the Resident’s Refusal Endangers Other Residents or Staff?

If a resident’s refusal of medical treatment endangers others in the facility, the nursing home has a right to evict them as long as they’ve attempted other means of resolving the problem and followed proper procedures for eviction. If the nursing home cannot protect the health and safety of other residents and staff due to the resident’s refusal of medical treatment, they have a legal right to evict them.

For example, suppose a resident has an infectious disease and the nursing home cannot prevent the spread of the disease, they may require the resident to leave the facility if they refuse medical treatment. 

A nursing home cannot evict a resident for refusing sedatives or other mood-altering medications unless their refusal results in a mental state that makes the resident a danger to others in the facility. In this case, the nursing home administrator must first document their reasonable attempts to resolve the problem before evicting the resident.

Can a Terminally Ill Nursing Home Resident Be Evicted for Refusing Medical Care?

Nursing home residents have a right to refuse life-extending care if they have a terminal illness. Some religious-based nursing home facilities may have policies regarding life-extending care for the terminally ill that require the resident to agree to all life-sustaining measures. This may be legal for religious-affiliated facilities in some states. If this is the case, the law requires the nursing home facility to inform the residents of this policy in writing when they are admitted into the facility.

Appealing an Eviction for Refusing Medical Care

When a nursing home serves a resident with a written notice of eviction due to the resident’s refusal of medical treatment, they and their family members have a right to appeal the decision. The appeal may be based on the premise that their refusal of medical care does not endanger other residents and staff members, or that the facility can provide medical care that meets the resident’s needs even if they refuse the treatment. For example, a nursing home cannot force the resident to take Xanax because their dementia makes them agitated at sundown. Even if they become aggressive, the facility cannot evict them unless they can show that the resident is a true danger to others and that they’ve first attempted to take other reasonable measures to accommodate the resident.

A nursing home cannot simply default to an eviction for a resident who refuses care.

Contact an Ombudsman In Your Area to Fight an Unlawful Nursing Home Eviction

The first line of defense against an unlawful nursing home eviction is a local ombudsman. An ombudsman is an advocate for fair treatment in a nursing home facility. They often set up informal mediation between a nursing home resident or their family representative and the nursing home administrators to come up with reasonable solutions, including for residents who exercise their right to refuse medical treatment.

Hire a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney to Protect Your Loved One’s Rights in Phoenix

When a nursing home continues eviction measures against a resident due to their refusal of medical treatment, an attorney can protect the resident’s rights by filing a lawsuit. A Phoenix nursing home lawyer can gather evidence to show that retaining the resident in the nursing home does not endanger others or exceed the facility’s ability to provide appropriate care.

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