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Rights Under the Nursing Home Reform Act

For residents of certified nursing facilities and their families, it is important to know that residents have rights provided by federal law. Many states have also codified similar provisions that may provide residents with additional rights under state law.

The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA), passed in 1987, provides federal statutory protection for residents of certified nursing facilities. Prior to the act, there was no minimum standard of care.


The Act is comprehensive and provides numerous rights. Among the more pertinent:

  • The right to freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect;
  • The right to freedom from physical restraints;
  • The right to privacy;
  • The right to accommodation of medical, physical, psychological, and social needs;
  • The right to participate in the review of one’s care plan, and to be fully informed in advance about any changes in care, treatment, or change of status in the facility; and
  • The right to voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal.

42 C.F.R. § 483.10 provides the full list of resident rights.


The Act also changed the way states inspect nursing home facilities. States must conduct unannounced surveys and interviews of residents. Nursing homes that are found in violation of the NHRA are subject to a variety of penalties. All states are subject to the same baseline requirements for inspections under the NHRA. As noted above, however, some states may have more additional requirements for the inspection process. If you have questions about the inspection process in your state, be sure to contact your Department of Health or an attorney who specializes in Elder Law.

Click here to read about the inspection process in Minnesota.

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Julia Cost May 3, 2013 at 9:02 AM

I have a question: If a private pay nursing home patient is given P.T. without the consent of the patient or family member paying the bill , does the bill have to be paid? After a year of battling with the Insurance Co. the Nursing home finally gives the bill to the payee.

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