Considered a form of elder abuse for the extreme distress it causes, “dumping” occurs when a long-term care facility suddenly leaves a patient at an emergency room or evicts the individual without any warning. After, the facility tells the patient or his or her family they won’t re-admit, as it no longer has available beds. As federal and state regulations outline the proper discharge process for nursing homes, including a 30-day warning and extensive documentation, “dumping” violates several laws.

Unfortunately, both patients and their loved ones are frequently unfamiliar with this legislation, patients’ rights and proper discharge procedures, and thus feel lost with nowhere to turn.

What is Nursing Home “Dumping”?

sad senior woman There are a handful of scenarios in which a home has grounds to discharge a patient, but “dumping” is not one. This unfair act often happens when a facility drops a patient off at an outside facility for treatment. In many cases, the patient’s family isn’t notified and the patient believes he or she is receiving medical care. However, after the patient has recovered, the home refuses to pick up the individual, claiming the facility no longer has an available bed – even within the seven-day window a home is supposed to hold a bed for one of its patients.

At this point, the patient is left to contact family members for help and if no one is available, may find him or herself at a shelter. Even if family members are available, contacting the home to determine why the discharge happened can be a series of a dead-ends. In fact, a nursing home may refuse to provide any information, claiming it violates Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines.

In taking this approach to discharge, facilities may target certain patients for the following reasons:

  • The patient is a resident they no longer want to deal with, as a result of behavioral issues, high-cost or care-intensive health conditions or seemingly difficult and demanding family members.
  • They want to limit their pool of Medicaid and Medicare patients, as both don’t reimburse the home sufficiently for the resident’s daily care.
  • The patient is low-income or has financial savings that are about to run out.
  • The patient is a ward of the state or has no surviving family members.
  • The patient has dementia and displays dementia-related aggression.
  • The home’s nursing staff is low and they can no longer manage more challenging patients.

Along with leaving a patient with nowhere to go, the facility may make false accusations about the resident and forge documentation to support its case.

As more individuals seek long-term nursing home care, rates of dumping have sharply increased. According to an Associated Press piece, complaints state long-term care ombudsmen have received concerning eviction and dumping have risen 57 percent since 2000, with over 10,000 cases being filed per year on average.

Knowing Your Rights

What happens when you or a loved one is a victim of nursing home dumping? Knowing your rights is key to fighting back:

  • If a home wants a patient to leave, federal law requires skilled nursing facilities to give them 30 days to leave.
  • Under 42 CFR 483, discharge is only legal if the facility can’t meet the resident’s welfare and needs, the resident’s health has improved sufficiently, the resident endangers others’ safety or health, the resident or his or her insurance has failed to pay for his or her stay, or the facility must shut down.
  • According to federal law, nursing home residents are entitled to a hearing concerning their readmittance.
  • If the home refuses to re-admit a patient or insists on discharge, the resident can file an appeal or complaint through the state.
  • f a home is, in fact, unable to meet a patient’s needs, it must contact the state Department of Health and Senior Services.

When a home initiates a proper discharge, it is required to do the following:

  • If a home transfers a resident to a general, acute-care hospital, the home must hold his or her bed for seven days, per federal and state regulations. If the resident’s hospital stay lasts more than seven days, the home must provide him or her with the first available bed after he or she is cleared to return.
  • Before any transfers occur, the home must inform the resident about its bed-holding policy. Additionally, if the patient uses Medicaid, the home must re-admit the patient with the first bed available if the seven-day period passes.
  • A home must develop a discharge plan with a doctor or the facility’s medical director involved. This plan needs to consider placement – near relatives, a spouse, guardian or other conservator – and needs a written evaluation detailing how the home will make a smooth transfer. Further, the plan needs to cover the services the resident will receive after the transfer or discharge.
  • The home must provide the resident, doctor, guardian, relative or conservator with a copy of the discharge plan at least 30 days before the transfer or discharge takes place.

Have you or a loved one been a victim of nursing home dumping? In these instances, the home has broken federal and state laws, placed you in a distressed state, and must be held accountable. For help with your claim, contact Trantolo & Trantolo today.