There is a disturbing practice in the nursing home industry that poses a serious risk to residents’ safety, and it is known as patient dumping or hospital dumping. This practice is used to evict residents from their nursing home when the patients have run out of money and have nowhere else to go. Nursing home staff take residents to hospitals, often emergency rooms, for acute care and leave the residents there. When it is time to discharge the resident and the resident tries to return to the nursing home, the resident is informed that there is no longer a place at the nursing home. The resident has effectively been evicted without any notice.
Not surprisingly, there are federal and state rules that protect nursing home residents from being evicted without notice. Residents can learn more about their rights as nursing home residents from Medicare.gov. Nursing homes are not allowed to simply dump residents at the nearest hospital when the resident runs out of money for care or is on government assistance. Even when residents need long term hospital care and their spot at the nursing home has to be surrendered, the nursing home is supposed to give notice before giving the resident’s bed away.
In some cases, residents who are dumped at hospitals could be dumped once again, this time onto the streets if they do not have an ability to pay the hospital bill and the nursing home refuses to take them back. This could leave the resident in a very unsafe situation, especially if the resident suffers from dementia, Alzheimer’s or another mental illness that can limit his ability to seek appropriate assistance when he finds himself on the streets.
Patients can be injured in the process of these illegal and unethical transfers from nursing homes to hospitals or from being dumped on the streets. Injured patients can seek compensation from the nursing home or the hospital for any injuries suffered. A resident seeking compensation from a nursing home for failing to provide adequate care or for the illegal eviction may have to show that no emergency or special circumstances applied that could have allowed the nursing home to transfer the patient to a hospital. However, even in an emergency situation, the nursing home has to take reasonable precautions to ensure that the resident is not injured as a result of the transfer.
In order to ensure that family members are aware when a nursing home resident is moved from one location to another, family members should consider asking the resident for a waiver allowing the nursing home to release this kind of information. Privacy laws may restrict the kind of information nursing homes and hospitals may release without these kinds of waivers. Finding out when and where a patient has been moved can make a big difference in terms of getting help for a loved one.
Contact Us for Legal Assistance
If your family member was injured as a result of patient dumping, or any other nursing home abuse or neglect, you may have a case against the nursing home and get compensation for your family member. To learn more, call us at Vocelle & Berg, LLP, in Vero Beach, Florida for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney with experience dealing with cases of nursing home abuse.