Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (4)9 Jun 96  PDF Version 

   When the decision is made to transfer a resident from one nursing home or skilled nursing facility to another nursing home, skilled nursing facility, acute-care hospital or other care setting, whatever the reason, Federal law requires that the nursing home or skilled nursing facility give proper prior written notice to the resident and an appropriate family member, of its intent to transfer the resident, the Court of Appeals of Kentucky recently ruled, assuming the facility making the transfer is one which participates in Medicaid or Medicare.

   According to the court, the Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987 was enacted by Congress to provide a comprehensive framework for regulation of nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs throughout the country. Each state must see to it that nursing care providers in the state conform to the standards specified in this law.

   In this case, a resident of a nursing home who suffered from numerous physical and psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, emphysema and seizures, was abruptly discharged from a nursing home and admitted to a psychiatric hospital. He was not given notice of the nursing home’s intent to discharge and transfer him until the very day it was to take place, in violation of state and Federal regulations, and his family member, a sister, who was also legally entitled to prior written notice, was not told until three days later.

   The time limit under state and Federal laws within which to contest a nursing home’s actions administratively or in court does not start to run until proper written notice is given pursuant to the law. Anderson vs. Cabinet for Human Resources, 917 S.W. 2d 581 (Ky. App., 1996).