In 2019, the Illinois Department of Public Health released a report that showed 111 state nursing home facilities cited for various safety violations. Facilities failed to comply with mandatory regulations that ensure the safe care of residents.
Are Illinois Nursing Home Residents Safe?
Illinois nursing homes have one of the highest ratings in the country for incidents of resident injuries caused by inappropriate care, abuse, and neglect. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the 2019 Fourth Quarter Report of Nursing Home Violators highlights 111 Illinois facilities with major violations. The report provides a long list of facilities throughout the state who were cited for resident sub-standard care, as well as abuse and neglect violations of the Nursing Home Care Act.
Nursing homes in Illinois are licensed and regulated by both federal and state agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). Under federal and state regulations, nursing homes and long-term care facilities that receive Medicare and/or Medicaid funding are required to uphold certain standards of care for all facility residents to ensure their safety. According to regulations, nursing homes must ensure that every resident receives the highest standard of care for his/her physical and mental health needs, medical treatments and medications, and personal needs.
In Illinois, IDPH oversees the standard of care provided to all nursing home residents. Each year, IDPH conducts approximately 1,300 on-site facility inspections to evaluate their quality of care for residents. The Department investigates and addresses compliance for more than 1,500 regulations including facility policies, procedures, and finances; resident care plans; staff members and caregivers; and quality of resident care.
Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers handle a large number of resident injury cases each year. many that result in medical malpractice lawsuits. IDPH investigates more than 6,000 annual complaints of alleged victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. When safety violations are found, IDPH is responsible for citing violators who fail to comply with state regulations. Illinois can impose a $10,000 fine for each violation. The federal government can impose fines that range from $50 to $10,000 per day. While IDPH can only impose state fines, it can recommend that federal fines be imposed by CMS.
The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act
The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act was established to protect the rights of nursing home residents who may be vulnerable to physical and/or emotional abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Under this act, nursing home residents have the same rights as any other person under the U.S. Constitution and state and federal laws. Residents in a nursing home facility may not be deprived of their rights solely because they live in a nursing home. The Illinois Standard of Care Act outlines a number of specific rights and protections for nursing home residents.
The Right to Accept or Refuse Treatment
Residents who are mentally able to have the right to participate in their medical care and/or refuse treatments, such as experimental procedures, surgical procedures, and prescribed medications. Residents have the right to refuse any treatment not ordered by their own physician or done without written informed consent. This includes the use of physical and/or chemical restraints that often cause injuries seen by nursing home abuse lawyers.
The Right to Choose a Personal Physician
Residents have the right to choose their own doctor at the expense of their health insurance. They also have the right to see their own medical records that contain information regarding medical conditions, diagnoses, treatments, and medications. However, when a resident uses his/her own physician, the nursing home can not be held liable for any medical malpractice committed by that physician.
The Right to Private Visitors
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities must allow residents to receive private visitors such as family members, friends, and social workers during reasonable business hours, unless there is documented medical reasons why visitors should be prohibited. The nursing home facility must provide adequate space for private visits and must knock before entering a resident’s room when visitors are present.
The Right to Receive Private Communications
Nursing home facilities are not permitted to deny or interfere with a resident’s receipt of personal mail, phone calls, or emails, unless there is documented evidence of potential harm or harassment of the resident. Illinois and federal laws prohibit censorship or any interference of private communications.
The Right to Manage Personal Finances
To protect against financial exploitation, a significant problem in many nursing homes, a resident must be given access to any of his/her personal funds held by the nursing home. The nursing home must be given written permission to spend a resident’s money on his/her behalf. Under state law, nursing homes are required to provide a quarterly financial statement of a resident’s finances to IDPH.