The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published a new rule proposal on July 16, 2015, that would increase standards for long-term care providers. It would be the first such rule proposal since 1991, and in that time, the number of nursing home residents on Medicare and Medicaid has tripled.
There are several goals that the CMS hopes to achieve if the 403-page rule goes into effect. For instance, it would ensure that nursing home staff members are able to detect the signs of elderly abuse and are better equipped to handle residents who have dementia. It would also make sure that the health of the residents is one of the main factors used when deciding sufficient staffing needs for a given facility.
Furthermore, the new guideline would allow physicians to delegate orders to dietitians and therapy providers when working in their area of expertise. This would only apply if state licensing laws allow for it. Patient rights would be protected by ensuring that facilities are restricted in when and how they can use binding arbitration agreements. Patient quality of life would be improved by allowing residents more flexibility in choosing what they eat.
Individuals who believe that they have suffered from nursing home neglect may wish to take legal action. Family members or guardians of those who may not be able to speak for themselves may also want to intercede if they notice that an elderly individual is not eating, has developed sores or bruising or has experienced a change in personality. An attorney may be able to assist with such action, which may result in the award of appropriate damages.