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The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act OBRA

Definition - What does The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act OBRA mean?

Studies in the late 1980s released by the Institute of Medicine found that nursing home residents were often receiving inadequate care and were neglected and abused.

In 1987, Congress decided to impose sweeping reforms which they passed into law through the Nursing Home Reform Act. This act was part of a larger effort passed under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987.

What did the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act do?

The goal of the Nursing Home Reform Act was to institute practices for elderly care which would ensure that patients were cared for in such a way that they would achieve their highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being while in the care of a nursing home. Specifically, all nursing home patients would have certain rights termed their "Residents' Bill of Rights" which would provide a certain level of standardized care.

According to AARP, the Bill of Rights specifically allows for "periodic assessments for each resident; a comprehensive care plan for each resident; nursing services; social services; rehabilitation services; pharmaceutical services; dietary services; and, if the facility has more than 120 beds, the services of a full-time social worker."

Additionally, patients could expect to have good care which did not include abuse, mistreatment, and neglect. Other rights included:

  • The right to privacy.
  • The right to avoid physical restraints.
  • The right to be treated with dignity, which accommodated their medical, physical, psychological, and social needs.
  • The right to receive assessments about their care.
  • The right (if possible) to give their own opinion about the type and quality of treatment and care they would like to receive.

Finally, if they were not satisfied with their care or believe it violated their rights, the facility must institute a process for them to voice their grievances without fear of reprisal.

Penalties for not following the Nursing Home Reform Act

Any facility which violates a patient's rights may have sanctions imposed. Sanctions include:

  • Potentially losing funding for Medicare and Medicare patients
  • Monetary penalties assessed
  • Forced monitoring by the state
  • Termination of their provider agreement
  • Replacement of management
  • Forced staff training to ensure all personnel understand the level of care required

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