The nursing home sent mom to the ER when she refused to go. What are her legal rights? - AgingCare.com

The nursing home sent mom to the ER when she refused to go. What are her legal rights?

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I always get such wonderful help and advice here, and I have another issue I am unsure what to do about. For a little background, my mom is 70 years old with MS, and she is in a nursing home. She is not bedridden but in a scooter and needs help transferring herself. She is cognitively alert and can speak up for herself. She broke her right hip almost three years ago and was not a good candidate for surgery so her and the dr decided together not to have surgery on her hip ( I can go into detail later if anyone has questions on this). Now the past few months she has been in a lot of pain, her hip, back and legs. Yesterday she fell at the nursing home trying to transfer herself to the toilet when help was taking too long. She didn't hit her head but was a little sore afterwards, but nothing much worse than before. It wasn't a really bad fall, she was kind of stuck between the scooter and toilet, but a fall nonetheless. They ordered a x-ray of her hip and the x-ray tech came at 7pm. At 5am I received a phone call from the nursing home to tell me my mom was on the way to the hospital due to radiology being unsure if the fracture in her hip was old or new. I asked the nurse if my mom was okay with going and she stated that my mom was very argumentative about it. I asked if they can wait at least a few hours so I can be there since I know how my mom is and I know she'd want that, and the nurse told me that my mom already left. I asked if my mom brought her cell phone, nurse said no. I had to wait a couple hours for my husband to get home from work so he could stay with the kids since no young kids are allowed at this ER at visitors. When I got to the ER my mom was getting tests done. Once I saw her, she was pretty upset and in a lot of pain due to being moved around so much. She had a CAT scan that she said she tried to refuse and they didn't listen to her. She told me that at the nursing home when they came to take her to the ER she said to them, "no, I'm not going" several times and every time the nurse said, "yes, you are". When the ER dr came in to speak with us, he asked why she came when it was obviously an old injury. We explained that she didn't have a choice. He apologized that that happened to her and he showed us the nursing home notes which clearly stated she went in for an old injury, there was absolutely nothing about a new one.


I called and spoke with the DON and told her everything about my mom refusing to go to the ER and that they still took her and they didn't call me until after she already left. My question is, what are my moms (and my) rights? I am her power of attorney and guardian. I am not disagreeing that she shouldn't have gotten a second opinion from the hospital, but it should have waited until she willingly agreed to go. She said she asked them to at least wait a few hours until I could go with her, since she has a hard time dealing with things like this alone, and it clearly wasn't an emergency. They seemed to ignore all she said.


What should I do about this? She is in more pain now than she was before due to everything they had to do at the hospital. I feel it was wrong and they should have listened to her and also contacted me before she left.

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You can ask that your mom not be taken to the ER without YOUR specific okay. We did that with my mom. But you have to be clear with yourself that you are willing to allow the NH not to treat until they are able to reach you.
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What do you want to do about this? Are you looking for the nursing home to admit they were wrong? Do you want to convey to the nursing home that what they did was wrong and premature? Do you want to sue?

I don't think there's anything you can do to resolve this. It already happened. Your mom's back at the facility now. The nursing home will maintain that they had no way of knowing, when your mom fell, that she wasn't injured. It was only confirmed that she wasn't injured once she had tests done at the ER. The NH was probably following some protocol for when residents fall.

They could have listened to your mom's refusal to go to the ER and tried to convince her that it was the best thing for her to go get checked out at the ER but what if they couldn't convince her? No one wants to go to the ER. Everyone will refuse under every circumstance. And I'm the last person to stand up for nursing homes, believe me, but they did the right thing. They didn't know your mom wasn't injured. What if she had been injured and they had waited several hours to send her? We'd be having a completely different conversation.

I think all you can do going forward is to make it known in writing that you are to be contacted prior to any ER visits. However, even then, you may not be able to depend on that. But I think that's all you can do. I called my dad's NH one night to see how he was doing and was told that he had died. I had to wonder when they were going to get around to telling me.

A nursing home can't wait to get someone to the ER when there's a fall or other situation and I know you said it wasn't exactly a fall but it is considered a fall. For all the nursing home knew at the time of the fall your mom could have broken a bone, had a small stroke or a blood clot. A nursing home isn't going to wait to call 911 until the patient is more amenable to going or until the family can get there. That's a huge liability for them.

The nursing home did what they're supposed to do. It's easy to say they should have waited to get her to the ER until she was more comfortable with it but 911 just doesn't work that way. And I don't think the nursing home works that way.

The issue to concentrate on is why didn't your mom get the help she needed in the bathroom in a timely manner? She had to use the bathroom and when help didn't arrive she tried to go on her own as so many people would. That's the real problem and it happens all the time in nursing homes.

I'm glad you're mom is OK.
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