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Can a Nursing Home Transfer a Sick Resident Without Consent?

nursing home transfer

According to the US Institute of Medicine, 1.5 million Americans live in nursing homes. These long-term care facilities provide seniors with the medical attention they could not receive while living at home. And if your loved one needs treatment that the nursing home can’t provide, it is their responsibility to transfer them to a hospital or other facility where they can be better cared for.

But what if the nursing home transferred your loved one without your knowledge? A nursing home cannot transfer patients unless they cannot meet your needs and it is necessary for your welfare or for the welfare of the other residents. Unfortunately during the COVID-19 pandemic, facilities often kept sick residents in the home instead of transferring them to a hospital. Without the proper care, many residents died.

If your loved one was transferred out of their nursing home without notice, or if the nursing home should have transferred your loved to a hospital or specialized nursing facility for urgent care and did not, then you may have grounds for a nursing home malpractice claim.

When can a Nursing Home Transfer a Patient?

In Indiana, admitted patients have rights regarding their admissions, transfers, and discharges from the long-term care facility. A nursing home facility cannot transfer or discharge a patient unless they cannot afford to stay, or if they need treatments the nursing home is not qualified to provide, or if they pose a danger to the health of other residents.

Patients have the right to advance notice of a transfer out of their nursing home. They also have the right to appeal or refuse a transfer. If the nursing home transfers a patient without notifying the patient or their guardian, they are violating these guidelines.

A nursing home can transfer a sick patient without advanced notice or patient consent if the nursing home cannot provide necessary medical treatment and the patient’s health is quickly declining. Protocols for pandemics or strong infections may also include guidelines for transferring sick patients. If the nursing home should have transferred a patient but failed to do so, and the patient suffered or died as a result, they could be held liable for their negligence.

Transferring Sick Residents

Recently, a nursing home in Greenwood was found to have a COVID-19 outbreak among the residents. They did not transfer sick patients to a hospital, and they didn’t notify family members of the spread. Family members felt that if they were told sooner, their loved ones may still be alive.

According to the CDC, 4 to 11 percent of seniors between the ages of 65 and 84 and 10 to 27 percent of seniors over the age of 85 have succumbed to complications from COVID-19. Since seniors live so close to one another in long-term care facilities like nursing homes, the virus can easily spread from patient to patient. Asymptomatic nurses may even inadvertently spread COVID-19 among nursing home residents without realizing it.

Nursing homes should have protocols in place for events like infections or pandemics. These might include steps for isolating sick patients, monitoring symptoms, and transferring patients who need additional care to a facility that is able to care for them. This also includes notifying family members and government agencies about the number of cases inside the home.

The CDC also has specific guidelines and recommendations for handling relatives in long-term care facilities as the pandemic continues, such as:

  • Restricting outside visitors from entering the facility
  • Regularly checking staff for fevers and signs of illness
  • Limiting social activities within the homes to keep residents safe

When a nursing home doesn’t follow protocol during an aggressive virus, especially if they don’t transfer sick patients to hospitals that can actually treat them, then they are negligent. Keeping vital information about the spread of disease from family members removes any possibility of the family to remove their loved one themselves to a hospital or better-equipped facility.

These are Not Normal Circumstances

Under normal circumstances this would not measure up to the standard of care the home promises their residents. But a pandemic is anything but normal. During a state of emergency when nursing homes are operating under strange and less than ideal conditions, negligence can be hard to prove.

If the nursing home did not transfer your loved one when they should have been sent to another facility for medical treatment, or if the nursing home kept you in the dark about the health of your loved one, a personal injury attorney can help determine whether malpractice occurred. Your concern is valid, and a personal injury attorney can answer any questions you may have.

Help from an Indiana Nursing Home Neglect Attorney

When you move a loved one to a nursing home, you trust the facility will take care of them. While most long-term care facilities always strive to provide the best care possible, others aren’t so honest.

Was your loved one recently transferred from a nursing home without your consent? Was your loved one harmed because of delayed hospitalization? Do you suspect the facility violated your loved one’s rights? Don’t waste another second wondering what you should do. Call a highly experienced and well qualified Indiana personal injury attorney who will help you understand your options and provide counsel on what you should do next.

Here at Hensley Legal Group, we care for our clients and will work hard to fight for their rights. Contact us today via call, text, or chat for a free conversation about about your case. Our Indiana personal injury attorneys are standing by and ready to hear from you.