Whose Fault Is It If My Loved One Was Discharged From a Rehabilitation Facility Too Early?Last updated on: November 2, 2021
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For many patients and their loved ones, the decision to move into a nursing home, even for rehabilitation, is often difficult enough. However, in some cases, an even more difficult situation may arise if the nursing home then attempts to discharge the patient too early before they have finished their rehabilitation. While going to a nursing home can be frightening, being forced to leave too early can be far worse for a patient, leaving them feeling alone and feeling as if they are not yet ready to be on their own again.
If your loved one was discharged too early from a rehabilitation center, you should call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 to schedule your free consultation with one of our skilled personal injury lawyers near you as soon as possible. If we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
Reasons for nursing home discharge from a rehab facility
Nursing homes may often attempt to transfer or discharge a patient for a variety of reasons, even when discharge may be too early, before the patient has fully recovered or no longer needs any rehabilitation services. Depending on whether these reasons are legitimate or illegitimate, the nursing home could be potentially liable if the patient is discharged from a rehabilitation facility too early.
Legitimate Reasons for Early Discharge
Not every early discharge from a rehabilitation facility will be for illegitimate reasons. Fortunately, federal law specifically lists the few permissible reasons which allow a nursing home to legitimately discharge or transfer a patient. Nursing home patients are protected in a number of ways by nursing home regulations found in the Code of Federal Regulations. Under federal law pursuant to 42 Code of Federal Regulations § 483.15, the following six reasons are the only allowable reasons for discharging a patient early from a nursing home:
- The facility closes down or otherwise ceases to operate.
- The patient’s continued presence endangers the health of other individuals in the facility.
- The patient’s continued presence endangers the safety of other individuals in the facility.
- The patient’s health has improved sufficiently enough that the facility’s services are no longer necessary.
- The patient has failed, following appropriate and reasonable notice, to either apply for Medicaid or Medicare coverage or otherwise pay for the patient’s stay at the facility.
- The patient’s transfer or discharge is necessary in order to meet the patient’s welfare which cannot be met in the facility.
Illegitimate Reasons for Early Discharge
While families often depend on nursing homes to care for elderly loved ones, even if the patient is only there temporarily for rehabilitation, the facility may unfortunately attempt to discharge the patient too early, often for the nursing home’s own convenience rather than for any legitimate reasons for discharge. In some cases, the facility may attempt to improperly influence the patient or their families to get the patient to “voluntarily” leave the facility without being formally discharged by the nursing home. In other instances, a facility may attempt to discharge a patient using a claim that the nursing home must discharge the patient because he or she is refusing medical treatment or because they are being disruptive.
However, neither of these reasons are sufficient to satisfy the requirements for the six reasons for discharge allowed pursuant to 42 C.F.R. § 483.15. Furthermore, a patient may be discharged too early by the facility in an attempt to conceal nursing home injuries suffered by the patient while in the facility’s care. If you feel that your loved one is being discharged too early from a rehabilitation center or that the nursing home failed to prove one of the six permissible reasons for discharge allowed under federal law, you should contact a skilled personal injury attorney from Zinda Law Group as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
Early discharge faqs
Helping your elderly loved one after they have been forced to suffer may leave you with more questions than answers. Fortunately, one of our nursing home injury lawyers can help you remove the patient from a negative environment. By answering various common questions like the ones below about early discharges from nursing homes, your attorney can help you better determine your next steps; they will also help you understand who may be liable and how to pursue a claim to seek any compensation you may be entitled to.
What Protocols Do Facilities Have to Follow to Discharge Patients?
Even if your loved one is being discharged from a rehabilitation facility through a legitimate reason for discharge, facilities are still obligated to follow certain protocols as part of the discharge planning process. Importantly, nursing homes must first attempt to solve any problems involving the patient before the facility may then take any steps to discharge the patient. Given the often significant burden of transitioning from a care facility to home, facilities are expected to follow various protocols, such as:
- Notifying the patient and their authorized family member or legal representative of the patient’s discharge in writing at least 30 days before the patient’s discharge date.
- Unless an emergency situation exists, the written notice must generally include the facility’s reason for discharging the patient along with specific steps taken by the facility to address or resolve these concerns without discharging the patient.
- To be effective notice, this written notice must also contain the proposed discharge date for the patient, the location to which the patient will be discharged, and information on the patient’s rights to appeal the facility’s discharge and have an administrative hearing to decide the appeal, as well as contact information for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP), which serves as an advocate for individuals suffering from mental illness or another disability.
Failing to include each piece of necessary information in the discharge notice may prevent the nursing home from discharging your loved one. The facility must also prepare a summary of the resident’s physical and mental health.
Can You Appeal An Early Discharge?
A patient or resident has the right to appeal a discharge from a nursing home. To appeal a nursing home’s decision to discharge a patient, the patient or their legal representative should contact one of the experienced nursing home injury lawyers from Zinda Law Group to discuss potential options and whether the facility may be at fault for discharging your loved one too early. The patient or his or her loved one must take care to ensure that any appeal is filed before the patient’s discharge date.
By hiring a skilled nursing home injury attorney, your attorney can thoroughly investigate your claim and whether the facility adequately met each of its obligations. They will help you determine—and preserve evidence proving or disproving—whether the facility provided sufficient notice and resources for the victim to fully understand their rights, including their right to appeal this decision by the facility.
Is The Facility Required To Allow You To Stay While Your Appeal Is Pending?
In most cases, a rehabilitation facility is required to allow a patient to remain in the facility while an appeal to their discharge or transfer is pending, although the patient may be required to pay the facility for these additional days if the patient loses his or her appeal. Importantly, 42 C.F.R. § 483.15 specifically forbids a nursing home from discharging or transferring a patient while the patient’s appeal is pending. Therefore, if the rehabilitation facility does not allow the patient to remain while an appeal is pending, the nursing home could be in violation of federal law.
Under federal law, the only exception to allowing the patient to remain in the facility while his or her appeal is pending is if the patient’s continued presence in the facility is endangering the safety or health of the patient or any other individuals in the facility. If the facility claims this exemption applies, the facility must specifically document the applicable danger that failing to discharge or transfer the patient would pose. Unless this exemption applies, a nursing home injury attorney may be able to help you pursue a claim against the nursing home for their loved one being discharged too early.
Contact a nursing home injury lawyer near you today
Nursing homes are expected to care for our elderly loved ones, whether on a permanent or indefinite basis, or for a more temporary period while the patient receives rehabilitation services until he or she is ready to return home. Unfortunately, these facilities may instead attempt to remove a patient from the home for various improper reasons such as the patient or the patient’s family being difficult or because the patient is a Medicaid recipient.
In many cases, the nursing home may fail to follow the proper procedure required under federal law for discharging a patient or may even attempt to remove the patient by transferring him or her to a hospital before then refusing to allow the patient back into the facility. Beyond being released too early, your loved one may even suffer nursing home injuries resulting from abuse or neglect, especially when these facilities are not held accountable.
If your loved one was discharged too early from a rehabilitation facility, call one of the experienced nursing home injury lawyers from Zinda Law Group as soon as possible to discuss who may be liable for your loved one’s early discharge, such as the nursing home itself. Our skilled team can also help you gather evidence of the nursing home’s improper motivations or lack of justification for removal. Contact Zinda Law Group today for your free consultation with a skilled personal injury lawyer to discuss whether you may be entitled to compensation.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.