It can be extremely upsetting to be told by a nursing home that your loved one must leave. Unfortunately, sometimes a nursing home will have an ulterior or nefarious reason to want to discharge a resident from the facility. Perhaps the resident is difficult. Or maybe the family members are being difficult. It may even be that the resident has become a recipient of Medicaid benefits.

Well, none of those reasons are legally acceptable for wanting to discharge a resident from a nursing home. Under federal law, there are only a handful of reasons where it is proper for a nursing home to discharge a resident:

  • The resident’s health has improved so that he or she no longer requires the care provided by a nursing home
  • Non-payment for services provided to the resident (after receiving proper notice of same)
  • The resident is a threat to the health and safety of other residents
  • The nursing home can no longer meet the needs of the resident
  • The facility goes out of business

Sometimes the nursing home will try to send the resident off to the hospital with the intention of not taking him or her back. State law may require the nursing home to hold the resident’s bed for a number of days (typically about a week). However, before a nursing home can transfer a resident to the hospital, they must inform the resident about its bed-hold policy.

The nursing home must also give proper notice as to the discharge (generally 30 days) as well as have a discharge plan, ensuring the resident has a safe place to go.

If the resident and or the resident’s family believe that the nursing home is trying to discharge the resident improperly, they do not have to accept the discharge without questioning as to why.

You can fight back and challenge an unlawful discharge. You can appeal the discharge or file a complaint with the state long term care ombudsman (for more information, see https://ltcombudsman.ny.gov/). Any appeal should be made as soon as possible after receiving a discharge notice.

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