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Nursing Home Abuse in Pennsylvania

The laws in Pennsylvania regarding nursing homes regulate the standards of care, policies, and services for the facilities in the state. These laws declare that residents of these homes, along with their families, will receive fair treatment and that they are guaranteed rights as residents. The overall goal of these laws is to make sure the residents have the best care possible to help with their health.

Residents of nursing home facilities in PA have the following rights.

  • They are to be informed of their personal medical conditions.
  • They need to be informed of any charges or services they undergo.
  • They need to receive, in writing, the policies, resident rights and procedures of the facility they are in.
  • They should be free of restraints unless medically ordered.
  • They can manage their own finances.
  • They can choose their own doctor and pharmacy.
  • Their records – personal and medical – will remain confidential.
  • They will participate in their plan of care, and they will have the ability to refuse treatment.
  • Their privacy, respect, and dignity will be maintained.
  • They can use their own clothing and possessions.
  • They can voice their concerns without fear of retaliation from the facility.
  • They will receive immediate visitor access from family members and reasonable access from others.
  • They will not be discharged or transferred except for the following cases: medical reasons, permanent closing of the facility, the welfare of the resident or other residents, or nonpayment.

Standard for Nursing Home Programs

The laws contain standards to which all long-term facilities must abide. They include things such as dietary services, nursing and physician services, care plans, and social and dental services.

If there are 59 or fewer residents, the law requires that there is one daytime RN, one evening RN, and one nighttime RN or LPN. If there are 60 to 150 residents, there needs to be one RN at all times. Facilities that have 151 to 250 residents need one RN and one LPN at all times. Those that have 251 to 500 residents need to have two RNs at all times, while facilities with 501 to 1,000 residents need four daytime RNs and three RNS for the evening. If a facility has more than 1,000 residents, there needs to be eight RNs during the daytime, and six in the evening and at night.


State law requires that the facilities have their menus planned at least two weeks ahead of time and that they are meeting the nutritional needs of all of their residents. A qualified and full time dietary services supervisor needs to be responsible for all of the facility’s dietary services. Personnel involved with the dietary needs of patients need to be fully hygienic throughout the process of preparing and providing food.


The physician attending the facility is responsible for the medical evaluation and regimen of care for the residents. Within 14 days of reaching the facility, the resident should have a medical assessment, which includes summation of prior treatment and potential for rehabilitation.

Resident Care Plan

Residents have the right, if they are able, to develop and review their care plan. An RN will develop the nursing assessment portion of the plan. The written care plan, when complete, needs to be accessible to all of the personnel responsible for caring for the resident.

Social and Dental Services

Residents are able to receive routine dental care, and 24-hour emergency dental care when needed. In addition, social services are available for all of the residents. If the home has more than 120 residents, there needs to be a full time social worker on staff.

Filial Responsibility

Pennsylvania is a state that has filial responsibility statutes, which means that there are certain duties required by adult children to care for their parents when necessary. Pennsylvania is one of the states that allow long-term care facilities to sue family members for unpaid costs.

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