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Nursing home discharge or transfer can require patient consent

The state of Georgia places strict limits on the right of nursing homes to discharge or transfer patients without consent. Even those situations in which the facility is exercising its legal right to discharge or transfer a patient require adherence to the procedures that have been prescribed by the state.

The general rule in Georgia is that no resident of a nursing home may be transferred or discharged without consent unless one of four factors has been met.

  • A non-consensual transfer or discharge is necessary for the patient's welfare, and the failure to discharge or transfer the patient will result in injury or illness to the patient or others.
  • Allowable charges are seriously delinquent.
  • The patient no longer requires the level of care currently being provided.
  • The facility is unable to meet the patient's needs.

Changing from private payment status to Medicaid does not constitute failure to pay allowable charges. If a resident is eligible for coverage under Medicaid, Medicaid will pay the resident's charges for up to three months prior to the date of application for the transfer to Medicaid. Any nursing home admission agreement that purports to allow involuntary discharge of a patient who becomes Medicaid eligible is void and unenforceable.

If discharge is not an emergency, the nursing home must provide thirty days' written notice of the proposed transfer or discharge to the resident, the resident's representative, and the resident's physician. The notice must include the reason for the discharge or transfer, the effective date of the transfer or discharge, the location to which the resident is being transferred, and a statement that the resident has the right to appeal the proposed action.

Any nursing home resident or relative of a patient who has received the 30-day notice of discharge or transfer may wish to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable about Georgia nursing home law for advice on the validity of the notice.

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