What Does a Recent Supreme Court Ruling Mean for Nursing Home Residents in Georgia?
The high court upheld residents' rights to file federal lawsuits.
In a significant victory for nursing home residents and their families, the United States Supreme Court ruled last month that individuals can sue public nursing homes for violations of residents' rights under the federal Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA), which sets standards for skilled nursing facilities, through Section 1983 of the federal code.
The case in question, Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County v. Talevski, involved a man named Gorgi Talevski, who was a victim of serious nursing home abuse in a county-owned facility in Marion County, Indiana, including chemical restraint. The facility also tried to force Mr. Talevski to permanently move to a dementia facility without notifying his family.
The Talevski family sued the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County (HHC), as well as the facility and its management company, arguing that his civil rights under federal law had been violated. The HHC argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the law did not provide for a civil rights lawsuit through Section 1983. But in a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court sided with the victim's family, ruling that Section 1983 does allow for civil rights lawsuits for violations of all federal laws, including the nursing home laws.
What the Talevski ruling means for Georgia nursing home abuse victims
While the Talevski ruling involved a public facility, which is not directly applicable to most Georgia nursing home residents — just 5 percent of skilled nursing facilities in Georgia are government-owned, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation — the implications of this ruling are significantly larger.
The Nursing Home Reform Act sets standards for all skilled nursing facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding. Virtually all nursing homes, whether public, nonprofit, or for-profit, receive federal funding, so the terms of the NHRA apply. The NHRA outlines certain basic rights for residents, including:
- The right to necessary medical, physical, psychological, and social care.
- The right to privacy.
- The right to security of possessions.
- The right to either welcome or refuse visitors.
- The right to remain in the facility until transfer or discharge.
- The right to participate in resident and family groups.
- The right to be treated with dignity.
- The right to exercise freedom of choice (self-determination).
- The right to communicate freely.
- The right to participate in the review of their care plans.
- The right to be fully informed in advance about changes in care, treatment, or status in the facility.
- The right to voice grievances without retaliation or discrimination.
- The right to choose a physician or healthcare provider.
- The right to refuse medications and medical treatments.
- Freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect.
- Freedom from physical restraints.
The Talevski ruling means that if your loved one's civil rights under the NHRA were violated, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit in federal court, in addition to your rights and remedies under Georgia state law.
Talk to an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney today
If your loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, you have rights under the law. However, fighting for the dignity and justice your family deserves is not simple. You need an experienced attorney to investigate, get to the bottom of what happened, explain your legal options, and build a case for the compensation you need.
With over 20 years of experience, attorney George S. Johnson stands up for nursing home negligence victims and their families throughout Georgia. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.