Federal Nursing Home Regulations Updated to Benefit Residents

New regulations by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which govern nursing homes across the country that accept patients with Medicare and Medicaid, are beneficial for nursing home residents, with the greatest benefits to those most vulnerable.

Nursing homes frequently medicate residents with dementia for the convenience of the staff.  Some of the most vulnerable residents are sedated or treated with psychotropic drugs as a means to restrain them.  CMS has taken a big step toward ending this practice, adding regulations targeted at both dementia and anti-psychotics, and requiring additional dementia training for staff, increasing physician oversight and documentation of psychotropic drugs, and requiring resident assessments more frequently for those provided these medications.  CMS has also added regulations to address resident rights and dignity, often overlooked for the most vulnerable residents.

CMS has also addressed nursing home abuse and neglect, adding new regulations defining abuse to include all deliberate conduct, regardless of any intent to cause harm.  The new rules also require that nursing homes provide additional training on abuse and neglect, recognizing the signs of abuse and neglect, and reporting suspected abuse and neglect to the proper authorities.  They have expanded this training to include all staff involved in patient care.  CMS now also requires that all criminal conduct be reported to state agencies.

Until these new regulations, nursing homes routinely included a binding arbitration agreement among their stack of admission documents, having the residents or their family members sign without realizing they were waiving the constitutional rights of the resident and agreeing to egregious and unjust terms by which to bring claims for abuse and even death.  CMS has put an end to that practice with new regulations which prohibit binding arbitration agreements, and even went a step further, ensuring the terms of any future voluntary arbitration will be fair to the resident.

CMS also declared that these regulations are applicable to all residents, as well as the resident’s representative, regardless of whether Medicare is their payor source, thereby benefitting all residents in long term care and skilled nursing facilities contracted with Medicare.

We’re hopeful these new regulations will improve the quality of care in nursing homes and keep residents safer.  For any questions about nursing home abuse or neglect, call the lawyers at Miller Kory Rowe LLP at (602) 648-4045 or contact us online.