Hospitals and doctors are sending patients to nursing homes unnecessarily, and have been for years. It has become the norm.

Were you advised that your parent or grandparent had a right to go home when they were in the hospital? Or were you just told they were being “transferred” to a nursing home without being given an option? Has it happened to your loved one?

This very common scenario has been the norm for seniors throughout the 1990’s and continues. It was the path of least resistance to get patients out of the hospital quickly, which led to increased profits for doctors and hospitals. So here are the facts.

1)     A patient has a right to be educated and communicated to while in the hospital about what their options might be for care after discharge. Not only is this the patient’s right, but in recent years the Federal government made it a requirement that this patient education take place.

2)     The patient always has the right to go home. There are very few exceptions to this. The fact is this is America, and it is your right to choose. No one can force you to go anywhere.

3)     If the communication and education you receive as a patient is appropriate, you will be advised of the risks of going home as opposed to a post-acute institution, such as a nursing home. Thus, if the patient chooses to go home upon discharge, the necessary services and equipment to maintain a safe and rehabilitative environment should be communicated thoroughly to them, as well as how to access these services.

4)     If the patient opts instead to be admitted to a nursing home after discharge, this is their right to choose as well. Once this decision is affirmed, the hospital is then required to educate the patient on their choices, as most communities have several nursing homes to choose from. It is the patient’s choice. There are no exceptions to this being the patients choice in its entirety.

Because most patients trust their doctor and his or her judgement, they usually will agree to be admitted to the facility the doctor recommends. If the doctor is uninvolved or the patient does not have an existing relationship with the doctor, the hospital case manager often steers the patient to a specific facility.

Doctors were financially incentivized in many cases, in multiple ways, to send a larger proportion of patients to a nursing home after a hospital stay. Case managers on the other hand, often did it due to pressure from administration to get patients discharged quickly once they were cleared to go home.

It is less work for the case manager and the quickest means by which to get the patient out of the hospital and move on with their day. Because Medicare reimbursement in nursing homes is lucrative, there was always several homes willing to facilitate an immediate transfer of patients.