New Federal Nursing Home Regulations Released by CMS

CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) recently released its updated federal regulations governing long term care facilities, including nursing homes. Below is a summary of the updated federal nursing home regulations of interest to nursing home residents and their families. While CMS is doing its best to combat nursing home abuse with updated federal regulations, sadly, many patient care regulations still fall short. If you suspect your loved one was abused or neglected inside a nursing home, speak with our nursing home abuse law firm today.

Federal Nursing Home Regulations Regarding Patient Care

Nurse Staffing

This would be the most effective regulation to stop nursing home abuse, but unfortunately, CMS is not setting a minimum threshold for nurse and aide staff numbers. The new regulations repeat the prior language which requires sufficient nurses and staff for the resident population residing in the facility at the time. The nurses also must have appropriate competency and skills to meet the needs of their residents. This is a vague definition that is tough to pin down. As elder abuse attorneys, when we litigate a nursing home abuse case, we compare a facility’s patient census, facility wide acuity level and then contrast this with staffing numbers. All too often we find that the facility is not adequately staffed to meet the needs of its residents.

Personalized Care

The new regulations demand that care plans be individualized to each resident. This ‘person-centered care’ allows residents choice and control in the treatment provided to them.

Nursing Home Abuse Regulation Changes

The CMS regs on nursing home abuse are now separate from other sections. CMS has also added a prohibition on individuals with past disciplinary actions from being licensed to provide nursing home care. Also, any suspicion of a crime must be reported to law enforcement and to the appropriate state agency. This would obviously include physical assaults and attacks, but it is unclear if nursing home neglect is required to be reported under the new regulations.

Plans of Care

Within 2 days of admission, the nursing home must create a comprehensive plan of care for each resident. The CNA or aide that will provide the care must be present at the care plan meeting. Additionally, a nutritionist must be present to add insight into the patient’s food and nutrient intake needs.

Staff Training

Staff must be trained in resident rights, nursing home abuse and how to communicate with residents. Certain caretakers (CNAs and LPNs) must be trained in safely handling patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Federal Regulations Regarding Nursing Home Resident Rights

No More Pre-Dispute Nursing Home Arbitration!

In a landmark policy shift, CMS has now invalidated all future arbitration agreements. This is crucial to patient safety as it allows victims of nursing home abuse to publicly address their grievances in court, as opposed to a closed-door arbitration.

Allegations of Nursing Home Abuse Grievances

New CMS regs require each facility have a serious grievance policy where residents and their family can voice complaints. The facility must appoint a member of the staff to be the grievance official that monitors and responds to resident complaints. This nursing home grievance official will conduct official investigations into complaints and conclude whether the findings are confirmed or not confirmed.

Preventing Patient Dumping at Hospitals and LTAC Facilities

New regulations specifically prevent a nursing home from refusing to admit a patient that was recently hospitalized. This is a form of ‘patient dumping’ and is not allowed. Now, the transfer-discharge procedures are more detailed as to when a facility can refuse to re-admit a nursing home resident that has recently been hospitalized.

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