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The Danger of Involuntary Discharge for Illinois Nursing Home Residents

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You carefully chose a nursing home to care for your loved one. Medicaid paid the nursing home bills on time, and your loved one’s medical condition has remained stable since she was first admitted to the nursing home. You had no reason to suspect that your loved one would have to leave the nursing home unless you requested it.

Then you got a nursing home discharge notice.

You are not alone. In 2015, more than 9,000 complaints were filed alleging involuntary nursing home discharges. The Illinois long-term care ombudsman alone received about 1,000 complaints of involuntary discharge in 2015 which was approximately double the number that the ombudsman had received in 2011. In 2017, the Illinois long-term care ombudsman said that involuntary discharge was “by far” the most commonly received complaint investigated in the state.

When a Skilled Nursing Home Can Discharge a Resident

A skilled nursing home can only discharge a resident in certain specific circumstances. These circumstances include transferring or discharging a resident when:

  • It is necessary for the resident’s welfare or health.
  • It is necessary for the resident’s safety or the safety of others.
  • The resident’s health has declined to the point where the nursing home can’t meet the resident’s needs.
  • The resident’s health has improved to the point where the services of a skilled nursing home are no longer necessary.
  • The resident has not paid for nursing home services. However, nonpayment is not a reason for discharge if the resident is waiting to receive Medicare benefits.
  • The nursing home closes.

A resident may not be discharged for other reasons. For example, it may be a wrongful discharge if a nursing home orders the discharge of a resident because:

  • The opportunity to make more money exists. A skilled nursing facility may not discharge a resident who is on Medicare in order to make room for a private paying resident.
  • The resident’s needs increase. A resident may not be discharged because of changes in her health that increase her medical needs, as long as the nursing home is able to safely handle residents with that level of need.
  • The resident’s family complains about the nursing home’s service or care. Family complaints are not reasons to discharge a resident.

Unfortunately, some nursing homes do discharge residents for these reasons and the results can be catastrophic.

Involuntary Discharge From a Nursing Home Can Cause Injury

When a resident is wrongfully discharged from a nursing home, the resident may be left with a gap in care. Without proper care, a resident can:

  • Become homeless.
  • Become confused or disoriented.
  • Go without needed medical care or medications.
  • Go without necessary assistance for activities of daily living.

This can result in illness, a worsening of medical conditions, or even death in some circumstances. It can also create a significant burden for family members who are unexpectedly scrambling to find safe, affordable, and available nursing home care for their loved one after an involuntary and wrongful nursing home discharge.

Protect Your Loved One’s Rights After a Nursing Home Wrongful Discharge

If your loved one was wrongfully discharged from an Illinois nursing home and suffered an injury because of it, then your loved one may be able to pursue a nursing home abuse and neglect case.

A personal injury lawsuit cannot undo the harm that has already been done, but a personal injury lawsuit can help your loved one recover for her past and future:

  • Medical expenses.
  • Out-of-pocket costs, including costs associated with moving to a different facility or home.
  • Physical pain.
  • Emotional suffering.

We encourage you to contact our experienced nursing home injury lawyers today to find out if your loved one might have a claim. We would be pleased to provide your loved one with a free consultation in a location that is convenient for her and we would be pleased to answer her questions. Please text us, call us, or email us at your convenience to learn more.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham

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