Right to Refuse Care, Prescribed by Law
A resident in a skilled nursing facility or nursing home has the right to refuse care and advanced directives. Advanced directives are also known as “DNR/DNI” (Do Not Recusitate/Do Not Intubate). This means a nursing home cannot force a resident or their legal representative to have instructions to limit care in the event of certain medical diagnoses or conditions. Signing a DNI/DNR can be a risk for residents in that facility staff may not provide necessary life saving care, or in an attempt to comply with what is believed to be the resident’s wishes, place him/her on hospice when a short hospital stay or relatively minor surgery could have prolonged the resident’s life.
Often times residents or their family members or legal representatives are asked to sign several documents as part of the admissions or readmission to a nursing home. One of the documents people are asked to sign is some form of an advance directive it can be titled several different ways including advanced directives, last wishes, DNR/DNI or by other names. Federal law makes it clear that you are not required to sign any advance directive as a requirement for admission into a skilled nursing facility or nursing home. In addition to advanced directives residents are often asked to sign the additional documents including arbitration agreements which by their nature limit the scope and venue for disputes regarding the quality of care and services provided at the facility as well as claims her injury or wrongful death. My recommendation that anyone signing advanced directives or arbitration agreements do so with great caution and only after consulting with qualified legal professional.
I recommend that residents and their family members sign advanced directives with great caution. Make sure that there is no exclusion for providing life sustaining elements such as food, water, medicine, etc. – as amazing as it may seem there are times that facilities argue that providing water and food was not incompliance with advanced directives as it “prolongs life” for a resident perceived by the facility and their medical staff to be in their last days.
The resident has a right to a dignified existence, self-determination, and communication with and access to persons and services inside and outside the facility. A facility must protect and promote the rights of each resident, including each of the following rights:
(b)(4) The resident has the right to refuse treatment, to refuse to participate in experimental research, and to formulate an advance directive as specified in paragraph (8) of this section; and
In the event that you are concerned about the results of neglect and abuse towards elderly or vulnerable people who reside in a nursing home or other type of care facility contact attorney Kenneth LaBore for free information and a consultation. Mr. LaBore can be reached by phone at 612-743-9048 or toll free at 1-888-452-6589 or by email at: KLaBore@MNnursinghomeneglect.com