People don’t make the decision to move themselves or a loved one into a nursing home lightly. Every year, declining health and needs that can no longer be met outside of an assisted living environment force millions of Americans to put their trust in others to provide care, compassion, and comfort. Sadly, and all too frequently, nursing home operators betray that trust and engage in the cruel – and illegal – act of “dumping” vulnerable residents and wrongfully evicting them from their facilities.
Why would anyone treat vulnerable seniors so heartlessly, often separating them from a spouse or leaving them quite literally homeless? The answer, as is often the case, is simple: greed and selfishness.
“Dumping” takes many forms, but the motivation is almost always to remove costly or burdensome residents from beds so that they can be replaced by others with greater financial resources or who won’t cause “problems” for the facility, such as complaining about their care.
The “Hospital Dump”
Imagine if you went on vacation for a few days only to return and find that your landlord had rented your apartment to someone else. This is essentially what happens in a “hospital dump,” perhaps the most common example of this despicable practice. This occurs when a resident must be admitted to a hospital for an acute care need. While the patient is in the hospital, the facility gives his or her room away to a new resident and refuses to readmit the patient back into the facility after the hospital discharge.
Not surprisingly, this is against the law, but that doesn’t stop nursing homes and assisted living facilities from continuing to kick out low-income residents when given the opportunity to do so. Even without a hospital stay, nursing homes will often come up with bogus reasons to evict residents, such as calling them a danger to themselves or others when such is not the case.
Nursing Home Dumping Is Illegal
Nursing homes fabricate such excuses because the law places strict limitations on when a home, assisted living facility, or long-term care facility can evict a resident. Specifically, federal laws require facilities to permit each resident to remain in the facility, and not transfer or discharge the resident from the facility unless:
- The transfer or discharge is necessary for the resident’s welfare and the resident’s needs cannot be met in the facility;
- The transfer or discharge is appropriate because the resident’s health has improved sufficiently, so the resident no longer needs the services provided by the facility;
- The safety of individuals in the facility is endangered;
- The health of individuals in the facility would otherwise be endangered;
- The resident has failed, after reasonable and appropriate notice, to pay for (or to have paid under Medicare or Medicaid) a stay at the facility. For a resident who becomes eligible for Medicaid after admission to a facility, the facility may charge a resident only allowable charges under Medicaid; or
- The facility ceases to operate.
Additionally, in most circumstances, residents must be given 30-days’ written notice of the transfer or discharge containing the reasons for the move in a language and manner they understand.
Lawyers Who Protect the Rights, Dignity, and Well-Being of Seniors
Notwithstanding the law, nursing homes continue to “dump” residents because they believe they can get away with it. They count on those residents and their families to lack the knowledge, resources, or capacity to hold them accountable. These facilities endanger the lives of the seniors they wrongfully evict; “transfer trauma” can cause irreparable psychological and physical damage, and some studies indicate that the rate of death is 5 to 9 times higher for residents who are involuntarily transferred.
At Sommers Schwartz, we are committed to protecting the rights, dignity, and well-being of our seniors. Our nursing home negligence attorneys don’t stand for seniors being abused, neglected, or mistreated by those entrusted with their care. If you or a loved one has been involuntarily discharged from a nursing home or assisted living facility, or have suffered from other forms of nursing home abuse and neglect, please contact us.