Can they do that?

Can they do that? 150 150 Lauren Ellerman

Families call our office all the time with the question, “Can they do that?”

Meaning, can the nursing home:

  • Change Mom’s Oxygen from 3L to 2L?
  • Change Dad’s medications without notifying families?
  • Discharge Grandmom on day 99 when her Medicare ends on day 100?
  • Refuse to apply for Medicaid benefits but rather bill the family for care and treatment?
  • Refuse to accept your loved one as a patient when you refuse to sign an arbitration agreement?
  • Attempt to have your loved one committed to a local mental health hospital through a TDO process when they are combative and threatening to staff?
  • Not notify the family of an incident with another resident?

And I ask the family, what do you mean “Can they do that?” 

Are there rules that prohibit these activities? No, not really. 

Are they sound medical decisions for your loved one? Probably not. 

Can you stop them? Maybe. 

Families are shocked to find that when dealing with long term care facilities, there is not a rule book that everyone follows. You have the competing legal interests and obligations from physicians, nurses, family members who have legal decision making rights, etc. 

If you want to know what rules govern the facility your loved one is currently receiving care – ask for a copy of the policies and procedures (by law they have to give them to you). Then, if you feel they are not following their own rules, ask for a meeting with the Director of Nursing and Facility Administrator. Then, ask for what they are going to do to solve the problem and if you don’t like the answer – take your business elsewhere (if possible). 

Be an advocate. Be organized. Ask Questions. And I am sorry but I cannot clearly answer the question – Can they do that?


About the author

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at

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