Supreme Court lets nursing home ruling stand: Facilities fair game for civil rights suits

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Frontline, ProPublica slam assisted living sector in documentary airing tonight
Frontline, ProPublica slam assisted living sector in documentary airing tonight
A federal appeals court decision in a case involving a skilled nursing facility—a decision once described as “shocking” by the American Health Care Association—has been allowed to stand by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the case of John J. Kane Regional Centers-Glen Hazel v. Grammer (see McKnight's, 7/7/09), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that the Federal Nursing Home Reform Amendments (FNHRA) guarantee a nursing home resident's civil rights. As such, a private civil rights lawsuit can be brought against a facility on behalf of a resident in the event of inadequate care and wrongful death. At the time of the decision, an AHCA legal representative decried the ruling, noting that the FNHRA had never been used to allow such a private right of action since their passage in 1987, reports the Bureau of National Affairs. 

On Monday, despite a petition from AHCA, the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging and at least 14 individual states, the nation's highest court denied a review of the Third Circuit ruling. The decision likely will cause both private and state run nursing homes to rethink patient and consumer rights.

The FNHRA were passed in order to provide more oversight of the quality of care and residents rights standards for nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. On March 24, McKnight's Fourth Annual Online Expo will host a Web conference discussing quality and resident satisfaction in nursing homes. To register for free, and become eligible for free continue education credit (CEU) visit www.mcknights.com/marchexpo.


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