If you have a family member who was admitted to a skilled nursing facility following hospitalization, you may not realize that there are rules if the facility asks a resident to leave. The first thing to know is that if you simply accept any reason given for the discharge then that is considered ‘voluntary’, and in essence you give up your rights.

For that reason, it is good to know what the justifiable reasons are for involuntary discharge. Those are set out under Federal law and subject to review on patient appeal by an independent agency, so the facility cannot just make the decision arbitrarily on their own.

The six reasons justifying discharge are:

  1. For the resident’s welfare and their needs cannot be met any longer.
  2. Improvement in the resident’s health so they no longer need the facility.
  3. The health of other residents would be endangered.
  4. Safety of other residents at risk due to clinical or behavioral status.
  5. Failure to pay after reasonable notice, or failure to submit paperwork to a third party.
  6. The facility closes.

What Does the Facility Have to do for a Discharge?

As you look at the list of reasons it would seem simple for the facility to make a claim one of the reasons has been met and begin the discharge. At this point, you can either leave or refuse the discharge based on one of the reasons. Then the facility has an obligation to provide written notice, documentation and evidence supporting the discharge reason.

For example, if the reason is that the resident’s health has improved, then there would be a need for documentation of the fact from a physician of the resident’s choice. Even if there is evidence, a ‘discharge plan’ also has to be developed to assist in the transition.

As you might guess, many family members or residents are unaware of these rights and rules and will often leave the facility whenever requested. Many patients are told they are “no longer rehabilitating”, or “the 20 day insurance coverage” is up as reasons for discharge. Many families are merely told their mother or father will be discharged on a particular day and for the family to come and pick them up. These are not valid reasons for discharge.

However, you can JUST SAY NO.

You can make sure your rights are protected and assert this process of review either on your own, or with the assistance of an attorney who is familiar with this area of elder law.