Nursing Home Abuse in Illinois

Illinois Nursing Home Laws and Regulations

In Illinois, nursing home residents are entitled to protection under both federal and state laws that ensure their well-being, safety and health. Nursing homes that fail to uphold the rights of their residents can be liable both civilly and criminally. Government agencies in Illinois are responsible for investigating complaints and ensuring the safety of nursing home residents. The responsible agencies are:

  • Illinois Department of Public Health
  • Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services
  • Illinois Long-Term Care Sub-State Ombudsman
  • Illinois Department of Aging
  • Illinois’ Peer Review Organization
  • Illinois Legal Aid
  • Illinois Legal Advocate
  • Illinois Foundation for Quality Health Care

The relevant laws include:

  • Illinois Administrative Code: PUBLIC Health, Subchapter c. Long-Term Care Facilities
  • The Freedom of Information Act
  • The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 (Federal)
  • The Illinois Survival Act
  • Illinois Nursing Home Care Act

In cases where a nursing home resident has been neglected or abused, any of the above-mentioned agencies can receive complaints under the above-mentioned laws. Once a complaint is filed, the nursing home will be inspected in order to determine whether they are compliant with the law, and whether abuse or neglect has in fact occurred.

Nursing home facilities are also required by law to submit to a state investigation annually.

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act (NHCA)

Under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, residents have rights. They include:

  • The right to complain
  • The right to their own clothing and personal property, and adequate storage space for same
  • The right to choose their own doctor
  • The right to be informed of potential consequences of medical treatment and to refuse same
  • The right to examine their medical records
  • The right to have their appointed caregiver examine their medical records
  • The right to manage their own finances
  • The right to be free of physical restraints, or to agree to same if medically warranted
  • The right to freedom of communication
  • The right to freedom of religion

If any of these rights are violated, the nursing home resident, or his or her representative, can file a lawsuit under the NHCA.

The Federal Arbitration Act

The NHCA notwithstanding, patients or their families may need to seek arbitration before going to court. This is because the Federal Arbitration Act has precedence over state law.

The Illinois Survival Act (ISA)

If the resident dies before the lawsuit is decided, his or her survivors can still recover damages under a claim that was filed before his or her death.

Wrongful Death

If neglect or mistreatment results in death, survivors may be able to file an action for wrongful death due to “healing art malpractice.” The claim must be reviewed by a non-partisan health professional who understands the subject of the claim and has either lectured or practiced in the area within the six years prior to the claim. The professional’s report must be submitted within 90 days of the filing of the claim.

Patients may have a greater right to damages under NHCA than under healing art malpractice, because it allows for recovery for damages that are both proximately and directly caused by the actions or inaction of the nursing home. Under the NHCA, the patient or his or her family may also recover court costs, punitive damages and attorney fees. Under a healing arts claim, damages can only be recovered for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

Learn More

The Illinois government operates a number of websites that provide information about nursing home laws in Illinois. You can also contact an elder abuse attorney for more information if you or a loved one has been harmed in a nursing home in Illinois.

Sources:

http://www.idph.state.il.us/healthca/nursinghometestjava.htm

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1225&ChapterID=21

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