It can be difficult to entrust the care, well-being and life of your elderly loved one to a nursing home in San Antonio. It may provide some peace of mind, however, to know that all nursing homes in the United States must honor the Residents’ Bill of Rights, as guaranteed by the federal Nursing Home Reform Act. Under this law, every nursing home resident has specific, codified rights. If a nursing home in Texas violates these rights, it can be held responsible for related damages, such as resident injury or death.

Right to Dignity and Respect

Nursing home residents have a right to live in an environment that provides them with dignity and respect. This right comes with specific rules for how residents must be treated, such as the right to safe and clean conditions; to be free from abuse, neglect and exploitation; to be treated with consideration, courtesy and respect; to be free from discrimination and harassment; to be able to practice their religious beliefs; to be free from physical or chemical restraints that are not required to treat a medical condition; and to receive visitors.

Right to Designate a Representative 

All residents have freedom of choice, including the right to appoint a guardian or legal representative to ensure quality of care and the stewardship of the resident’s affairs. If the resident is involved in an accident and needs to see a doctor, has a worsened physical or mental health status, is diagnosed with a life-threatening condition, or has medical complications, the nursing home must legally notify the resident’s legal representative or interested family member.

Right to Proper Medical Care and Medical Autonomy

A fundamental right in a nursing home is the right to proper medical care, as well as the right to participate and choose medical treatments. A resident has the right to be fully informed about his or her health status and health care, as well as to choose his or her doctor and have autonomy over medical care. This includes the right to refuse treatments. All nursing homes must provide proper medical care to address residents’ needs and help them maintain or achieve the highest possible level of health.

Right to Privacy

The right to privacy legally protects a nursing home resident’s right to keep certain things confidential, such as visits, phone calls, letters and privacy while attending to personal needs. Nursing homes must also keep certain information private and confidential, such as certain facility, personal and medical information.

Right to Have Access to and Participate in Activities

Nursing home residents have the right to self-determination. This means all residents have the power to choose their daily activities, express their needs and preferences, develop a care plan that incorporates their personal and cultural preferences, and request or refuse treatment. This includes a right of access to community members, activities inside and outside of the nursing home (social, religious, etc.), other individuals, and services. No nursing home resident may be cut off from activities or the right to participate in activities at the nursing home.

Right to Complain

A nursing home resident who wishes to raise grievances against a nursing home has a legally protected right to do so without fear of retaliation. If a nursing home resident wishes to complain about neglect, abuse, discrimination or harassment, he or she has the right to do so without being put in fear of punishment, recourse or harm. In addition, a nursing home has an obligation to promptly address the grievance and file a complaint with the local long-term care ombudsman program.

Get Help if Your Rights Have Been Violated at a Nursing Home

If a nursing home in San Antonio has infringed upon your rights or the rights of a loved one, even kicking them out of the nursing home unjustly, contact a San Antonio nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible for legal assistance. You may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the facility in pursuit of financial compensation for the harm suffered by the victim, including physical injuries and emotional damage. A lawyer can help you exercise and protect your rights when dealing with a nursing home in Texas.