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Title 38: Pensions, Bonuses, and Veterans' Relief
§51.70 Resident rights.
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. The facility management must protect and promote the rights of each resident, including each of the following rights:
(a) Exercise of rights. (1) The resident has the right to exercise his or her rights as a resident of the facility and as a citizen or resident of the United States.
(2) The resident has the right to be free of interference, coercion, discrimination, and reprisal from the facility management in exercising his or her rights.
(3) The resident has the right to freedom from chemical or physical restraint.
(4) In the case of a resident determined incompetent under the laws of a State by a court of jurisdiction, the rights of the resident are exercised by the person appointed under State law to act on the resident's behalf.
(5) In the case of a resident who has not been determined incompetent by the State court, any legal-surrogate designated in accordance with State law may exercise the resident's rights to the extent provided by State law.
(b) Notice of rights and services. (1) The facility management must inform the resident both orally and in writing in a language that the resident understands of his or her rights and all rules and regulations governing resident conduct and responsibilities during the stay in the facility. Such notification must be made prior to or upon admission and periodically during the resident's stay.
(2) The resident or his or her legal representative has the right:
(i) Upon an oral or written request, to access all records pertaining to himself or herself including current clinical records within 24 hours (excluding weekends and holidays); and
(ii) After receipt of his or her records for review, to purchase at a cost not to exceed the community standard photocopies of the records or any portions of them upon request and with 2 working days advance notice to the facility management.
(3) The resident has the right to be fully informed in language that he or she can understand of his or her total health status;
(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 (b)(7) of this section; and
(5) The facility management must inform each resident before, or at the time of admission, and periodically during the resident's stay, of services available in the facility and of charges for those services to be billed to the resident.
(6) The facility management must furnish a written description of legal rights which includes:
(i) A description of the manner of protecting personal funds, under paragraph (c) of this section;
(ii) A statement that the resident may file a complaint with the State (agency) concerning resident abuse, neglect, misappropriation of resident property in the facility, and non-compliance with the advance directives requirements.
(7) The facility management must have written policies and procedures regarding advance directives (e.g., living wills) that include provisions to inform and provide written information to all residents concerning the right to accept or refuse medical or surgical treatment and, at the individual's option, formulate an advance directive. This includes a written description of the facility's policies to implement advance directives and applicable State law. If an individual is incapacitated at the time of admission and is unable to receive information (due to the incapacitating conditions) or articulate whether or not he or she has executed an advance directive, the facility may give advance directive information to the individual's family or surrogate in the same manner that it issues other materials about policies and procedures to the family of the incapacitated individual or to a surrogate or other concerned persons in accordance with State law. The facility management is not relieved of its obligation to provide this information to the individual once he or she is no longer incapacitated or unable to receive such information. Follow-up procedures must be in place to provide the information to the individual directly at the appropriate time.
(8) The facility management must inform each resident of the name and way of contacting the primary physician responsible for his or her care.
(9) Notification of changes. (i) Facility management must immediately inform the resident; consult with the primary physician; and if known, notify the resident's legal representative or an interested family member when there is—
(A) An accident involving the resident which results in injury and has the potential for requiring physician intervention;
(B) A significant change in the resident's physical, mental, or psychosocial status (i.e., a deterioration in health, mental, or psychosocial status in either life-threatening conditions or clinical complications);
(C) A need to alter treatment significantly (i.e., a need to discontinue an existing form of treatment due to adverse consequences, or to commence a new form of treatment); or
(D) A decision to transfer or discharge the resident from the facility as specified in §51.80(a) of this part.
(ii) The facility management must also promptly notify the resident and, if known, the resident's legal representative or interested family member when there is—
(A) A change in room or roommate assignment as specified in §51.100(f)(2); or
(B) A change in resident rights under Federal or State law or regulations as specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section.
(iii) The facility management must record and periodically update the address and phone number of the resident's legal representative or interested family member.
(c) Protection of resident funds. (1) The resident has the right to manage his or her financial affairs, and the facility management may not require residents to deposit their personal funds with the facility.
(2) Management of personal funds. Upon written authorization of a resident, the facility management must hold, safeguard, manage, and account for the personal funds of the resident deposited with the facility, as specified in paragraphs (c)(3) through (c)(6) of this section.
(3) Deposit of funds. (i) Funds in excess of $100. The facility management must deposit any residents' personal funds in excess of $100 in an interest bearing account (or accounts) that is separate from any of the facility's operating accounts, and that credits all interest earned on resident's funds to that account. (In pooled accounts, there must be a separate accounting for each resident's share.)
(ii) Funds less than $100. The facility management must maintain a resident's personal funds that do not exceed $100 in a non-interest bearing account, interest-bearing account, or petty cash fund.
(4) Accounting and records. The facility management must establish and maintain a system that assures a full and complete and separate accounting, according to generally accepted accounting principles, of each resident's personal funds entrusted to the facility on the resident's behalf.
(i) The system must preclude any commingling of resident funds with facility funds or with the funds of any person other than another resident.
(ii) The individual financial record must be available through quarterly statements and on request from the resident or his or her legal representative.
(5) Conveyance upon death. Upon the death of a resident with a personal fund deposited with the facility, the facility management must convey within 90 calendar days the resident's funds, and a final accounting of those funds, to the individual or probate jurisdiction administering the resident's estate; or other appropriate individual or entity, if State law allows.
(6) Assurance of financial security. The facility management must purchase a surety bond, or otherwise provide assurance satisfactory to the Under Secretary for Health, to assure the security of all personal funds of residents deposited with the facility.
(d) Free choice. The resident has the right to—
(1) Be fully informed in advance about care and treatment and of any changes in that care or treatment that may affect the resident's well-being; and
(2) Unless determined incompetent or otherwise determined to be incapacitated under the laws of the State, participate in planning care and treatment or changes in care and treatment.
(e) Privacy and confidentiality. The resident has the right to personal privacy and confidentiality of his or her personal and clinical records.
(1) Residents have a right to personal privacy in their accommodations, medical treatment, written and telephone communications, personal care, visits, and meetings of family and resident groups. This does not require the facility management to give a private room to each resident.
(2) Except as provided in paragraph (e)(3) of this section, the resident may approve or refuse the release of personal and clinical records to any individual outside the facility;
(3) The resident's right to refuse release of personal and clinical records does not apply when—
(i) The resident is transferred to another health care institution; or
(ii) Record release is required by law.
(f) Grievances. A resident has the right to—
(1) Voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal. Residents may voice grievances with respect to treatment received and not received; and
(2) Prompt efforts by the facility to resolve grievances the resident may have, including those with respect to the behavior of other residents.
(g) Examination of survey results. A resident has the right to—
(1) Examine the results of the most recent VA survey with respect to the facility. The facility management must make the results available for examination in a place readily accessible to residents, and must post a notice of their availability; and
(2) Receive information from agencies acting as client advocates, and be afforded the opportunity to contact these agencies.
(h) Work. The resident has the right to—
(1) Refuse to perform services for the facility;
(2) Perform services for the facility, if he or she chooses, when—
(i) The facility has documented the need or desire for work in the plan of care;
(ii) The plan specifies the nature of the services performed and whether the services are voluntary or paid;
(iii) Compensation for paid services is at or above prevailing rates; and
(iv) The resident agrees to the work arrangement described in the plan of care.
(i) Mail. The resident must have the right to privacy in written communications, including the right to—
Send and promptly receive mail that is unopened; and
(2) Have access to stationery, postage, and writing implements at the resident's own expense.
(j) Access and visitation rights. (1) The resident has the right and the facility management must provide immediate access to any resident by the following:
(i) Any representative of the Under Secretary for Health;
(ii) Any representative of the State;
(iii) Physicians of the resident's choice (to provide care in the nursing home, physicians must meet the provisions of §51.210(j));
(iv) The State long term care ombudsman;
(v) Immediate family or other relatives of the resident subject to the resident's right to deny or withdraw consent at any time; and
(vi) Others who are visiting subject to reasonable restrictions and the resident's right to deny or withdraw consent at any time.
(2) The facility management must provide reasonable access to any resident by any entity or individual that provides health, social, legal, or other services to the resident, subject to the resident's right to deny or withdraw consent at any time.
(3) The facility management must allow representatives of the State Ombudsman Program, described in paragraph (j)(1)(iv) of this section, to examine a resident's clinical records with the permission of the resident or the resident's legal representative, subject to State law.
(k) Telephone. The resident has the right to reasonable access to use a telephone where calls can be made without being overheard.
(l) Personal property. The resident has the right to retain and use personal possessions, including some furnishings, and appropriate clothing, as space permits, unless to do so would infringe upon the rights or health and safety of other residents.
(m) Married couples. The resident has the right to share a room with his or her spouse when married residents live in the same facility and both spouses consent to the arrangement.
(n) Self-Administration of Drugs. An individual resident may self-administer drugs if the interdisciplinary team, as defined by §51.110(d)(2)(ii) of this part, has determined that this practice is safe.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 101, 501, 1710, 1741-1743)
(The Office of Management and Budget has approved the information collection requirements in this section under control number 2900-0160)
[65 FR 968, Jan. 6, 2000, as amended at 74 FR 19434, Apr. 29, 2009]