Before a senior gets admitted to a nursing home, he or she will need to sign a contract or other admission’s agreement. A contract is a legally binding document that defines the conditions under which the senior is admitted. It is important for seniors and caregivers alike to review and understand the contract in its entirety to ensure optimal care, protection and provisions. Some of the most important terms of a nursing home contract define the circumstances under which a resident can be admitted, transferred or discharged and how they will pay for the services provided.
There are many reasons why elderly persons wind up in nursing homes, including voluntary admittance to obtain assistance with rehabilitation after a hospital stay or problematic behaviors associated with various mental conditions such as dementia. In order to afford nursing home costs, many of these adults rely on Medicaid and Medicare. A nursing home may choose to discharge a person for various reasons, including their coverage is running out or they feel the patient is ready for release. However, if a resident is being discharged, the discharge can be challenged.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), up to 70% of nursing home residents are prescribed antibiotics during the course of any given year, ranging in cost between $38 million to $137 million per year. Recently, the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) released the results of a study that linked the high usage of antibiotics in nursing homes to many health problems such as gastroenteritis, clostridium difficile, and resistance to superbugs, drug-resistant germs.
Recently, the New York State Office of the Attorney General announced that a New York nursing home chain, Elant, settled with its office for $600,000 stemming from claims that they benefited financially by prolonging residents’ stays longer than necessary. The nursing home chain admitted that several patients who were meant to be short term were transferred to one of their locations in financial peril. The transfer was against the wishes and consent of the residents and their families, and was meant to generate income for the location and assist in remedying the financial condition. Attorney General Schneiderman remarked that his office is dedicated to combating such practices and will “find those who use patients to siphon off critical taxpayer funds.”
The New York Times recently exposed several startling scenarios in which nursing homes have attempted to gain guardianship rights over residents in an effort to collect payment. According to research done by Hunter College, the practice of nursing homes filing for guardianship of residents is becoming increasingly common. In the last ten years, out of 700 guardianship cases brought to court in Manhattan alone, 12% were filed by nursing homes.
A recent National Public Radio (NPR) investigation revealed that nearly 20 percent of senior nursing home residents receive some form of antipsychotic medications.
Similar reports, drawing from the NPR investigation, found significantly higher rates of antipsychotic drug usage concentrated in the Western New York area. In the Rochester region, data revealed that antipsychotic drug usage rates reached up to 30 percent.*
A recent exposé by the New York Times revealed that as nursing homes revamp their facilities to include luxury living quarters, the disparity between the lavish amenities of short term accommodations, and the quality of care can be drastic. Although nursing homes are attempting to lure in patients whose short stays will be funded by Medicare dollars, in lieu of Medicaid, many patients are being discharged from the facilities before they have been rehabilitated. Or worse yet- they leave with more medical issues than they had upon admittance.