When it comes to discharging, nursing homes often need to balance their own needs with the needs of their residents. If they discharge too early (or inappropriately), they could be found liable for damages by the resident or the resident’s family. Yet there are some situations that do require that a resident be discharged or even evicted.

When is it a facility’s right to discharge a patient?

When the Resident No Longer Has Needs for the Facility

Perhaps the most positive reason to discharge a resident is that they no longer have the needs of the facility. A skilled nursing facility can discharge a resident if they have recovered from the illness or injury that initially brought them there. Sometimes a resident may still need some level of care, but a lower level of care than the facility currently provides.

When the Resident Has Needs That Can’t Be Met at the Facility

There may be special needs that a resident has that the facility simply can’t offer. In this situation, it’s best for both the facility and the resident to discharge that resident. Unfortunately, a resident may not feel the same way, nor may their family.

If there’s a unique service that the facility can’t provide, it can be unique enough that there are few other facilities that offer it. While a facility is in their legal right to discharge such a resident, there may be pushback if the family cannot find another facility that meets their needs. This can lead to legal costs even if the facility is ultimately in the right.

When the Resident May Be Dangerous to Those at the Facility

A facility has a duty to look after residents, but it also has a duty to look after its own staff. If a facility feels that a resident could be dangerous, it may have no choice to discharge that resident. Some residents can be dangerous or violent, while others may have illnesses that could potentially pose a risk to other residents and staff members. A facility may need to use its judgment regarding whether a resident is truly dangerous.

When the Resident Hasn’t Been Able to Pay the Facility

Residents who haven’t paid their fees at the facility may be discharged, as can residents who have let their Medicare or Medicaid coverage lapse. The facility will need to notify the resident of their delinquency in advance and give them a reasonable amount of time to resolve the issues involved, but the facility is allowed to discharge the resident if the bills are not paid.

Residents have their own legal rights, and nursing facilities would do well to educate themselves regarding these rights. Discharging a resident can’t happen for just any reason, and there could be legal consequences (and costs) if a discharge isn’t thought to have been reasonable. To learn more, consider the services of Highland Park. Highland Park provides healthcare facilities insurance programs to mitigate risk.

About Highland Risk Services

At Highland Risk, we use our expertise and experience to provide insurance information and programs to those who serve long-term care and senior living facilities. Since 2007, we’ve been offering insurance and risk management plans designed to help our agents give their clients the ability to achieve continued growth while simultaneously protecting against loss, containing costs and increasing profitability. With offices to serve you in Chicago, Illinois and Phoenix, Arizona, we do everything we can to make your experience with us as professional and transparent as possible. To learn more, contact us at (877) 890-9301.