The 1986 Nursing Home Reform Act requires nursing homes to comply with a set of standards and procedures to prevent resident injuries in order to receive Medicaid and Medicare payments for long-term care of residents.

Requirements of the Law

The law established a certification process that requires states to conduct unannounced surveys, including resident interviews, at irregular intervals at least once every 15 months.

To prevent resident injuries, nursing homes must assess the condition of each resident on admission and at least once every 12 months, and develop an individualized care plan. A facility must prevent deterioration of a resident’s ability to perform regular everyday tasks and ensure that residents receive adequate supervision and assistive devices to prevent falls.

Nursing Homes in Violation

A law is only as good as its enforcement. In 2008, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General, in its report titled “Trends in Nursing Home Deficiencies and Complaints,” showed that over 90 percent of the nation’s nursing homes were cited for federal violations from 2005-2007.

Legal Recourse for Nursing Home Violations

There is something you can do when you suspect a nursing home is negligent in the care of its residents. Although a nursing home lawsuit can be filed by a resident (if that individual is judged to be mentally sound and capable of testifying), most nursing home lawsuits are filed on behalf of a resident by a family member or other loved one.