California has been at the center of a renewed focus on patient dumping and unlawful nursing home evictions. Local and federal regulators are looking to enhance the enforcement of laws that protect nursing home residents.
A lawsuit was recently filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court against SavaSeniorCare, a national nursing home chain. Six of its California facilities were accused of illegally evicting nursing home residents. They allegedly refused to provide patients with advance written notices of discharge or inform them of their right to appeal the discharge.
The lawsuit claimed SavaSeniorCare favored profit over following longstanding rules designed to protect residents. Last year, the AARP Foundation filed a similar lawsuit against a Sacramento provider.
Nursing homes have a legal duty to provide 30 days’ notice before discharging a patient involuntarily. They must also notify the appropriate parties, give a specific reason for the eviction and offer the resident a chance to contest the decision. In addition, the nursing home is required to help arrange the individual’s transfer to their home or another long-term care facility.
Evictions have to meet a limited set of criteria in order to be justified. For example, a patient may be discharged because of their failure to pay, the facility’s closure or inability to meet the resident’s needs, or because the resident poses a risk to others’ safety. Many nursing homes misinterpret the reasons and engage in patient dumping for monetary gains.
Legislation that aims to deter the practice of patient dumping has been introduced in the California State Senate. The measure would ensure nursing homes discharge patients to their specified place of residence or to another licensed facility.
Unfortunately, far too many residents nationwide are unaware of their rights and are evicted without an appeal. As a result, they end up without permanent housing or the routine medical care they need upon discharge.