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Federal law addresses nursing home abuse and neglect

Some people in South Carolina may fear entering a nursing home. They may be afraid they will receive poor care or even be the victim of nursing home abuse. However, the federal government has recognized the fact that many nursing home residents were receiving substandard or unacceptable care and treatment. From this came the Nursing Home Reform Act.

Under the Nursing Home Reform Act, nursing home residents have numerous rights. They have the right to be free from abuse, neglect or mistreatment. They are entitled to privacy. They also cannot be physically restrained.

Nursing home residents have the right to medical care, as well as having their physical, psychological and social needs met. They are to be treated with dignity, and they have the right to be a part of resident and family groups. They are allowed to exercise self-determination and free speech.

In addition, nursing home residents have the right to consider any changes in their care plan or changes in the status of the nursing home. Finally, nursing home residents are able to voice grievances without being discriminated against and without fear of reprisal.

Federal law also has a certification process to keep track that nursing homes are abiding by the Act. This includes performing unannounced surveys at least one time every 15 months. These surveys aim to monitor whether nursing home residents' rights are being upheld and whether nursing home residents are receiving adequate care and quality of life.

As this shows, under federal law nursing home residents have the right to be free from abuse and neglect. This should come as some comfort to nursing home residents, but unfortunately, instances of nursing home neglect and abuse still occur. When this happens, it is important that nursing home residents and their loved ones understand what their legal rights are and how they can hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.

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