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Understanding the Rights of Nursing Home Patients

Logo No one likes the thought of advancing age. No one likes to think about a time in the future when they can no longer care for their personal needs. No one likes to think about spending their last days in a nursing home. If that should become a reality, however, no one wants to worry about themselves or their loved ones being abused, neglected and mistreated in such an institution. Unfortunately, many times over and over again there have been numerous reports of violations and court claims arising out of such occurrences, including the nursing homes in Anchorage.

Due to a recent inspection and subsequent report of multiple violations, the management of Prestige Care in East Anchorage was taken over by the State of Alaska, Department of Health & Social Services.

The federal government and the State of Alaska have enacted laws setting standards of care that apply to facilities such as this. Nursing home facilities are required by federal (42 CFR 483) and state law (7AAC 12.250) to maintain a high quality of care for their patients. For example, pursuant to 7 AAC 12.270, the nursing home"shall encourage and assist residents to achieve and maintain their highest level of self-care and independence …shall give residents the necessary care to prevent pressure ulcers, contractures, and deformities." Regulations govern the required number of nurses on staff, the frequency of treatment by a physician, the creation and management of a plan of care, rehabilitative services, dietary services, dental services and even organization of activities.

The residents/patients of nursing homes also have protected rights as enumerated in 7 AAC 122.890, such as reasonable access to a phone, receive unopened mail, be informed of the facility's grievance procedures, and most importantly "to be treated with consideration and recognition of the patients…dignity and individuality."

The effects of advancing age are generally unpleasant and sometimes very difficult to deal with. How very unfortunate that some individuals, who have entrusted their personal care and health to licensed facilities, are neglected and overlooked. When the legally established standards of care are violated, the large out-of-state companies that own the facilities need to be held legally accountable, so that the patients/victims can be fairly compensated and to protect future patients from becoming victims. The staff at Johnson Beard & Trueb, PC, are ready and able to defend their legal rights and personal dignity.

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