Regulation of Assisted Living Facilities
If a loved one was injured at a Maryland assisted living facility and you believe its management is at fault, there are many issues that need to be looked into. Some of them are the regulations of the State of Maryland and whether they’ve been violated. These regulations are rules that these facilities are supposed to follow, but that’s not always the case. The fact that a regulation was violated used as evidence that the facility wasn’t living up to its legal obligations and that negligence occurred, which led to the injury of a resident.
Assisted care facilities are governed almost exclusively by state laws and regulations, rather than by federal rules, so they vary from state to state. There are federal laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) which covers confidentiality of personal medical information, which impact assisted living facilities, but they aren’t targeted just to the operation of those facilities.
Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene regulations of assisted living facilities state that their purpose is to set minimum, reasonable standards for the licensure of assisted living programs in Maryland. The goal is to maximize residents’ independence and promote individuality, personal dignity, freedom of choice and fairness for all those living in assisted living facilities while establishing reasonable standards to promote their health and safety.
Some of those regulations state:
- It is illegal to operate an assisted living program in Maryland without a state license and compliance with the state’s regulations. A person knowingly and willfully operating, maintaining or owning an assisted living program without a license would be committing a felony. If convicted, the person operating the facility faces up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 for a first offense and up to $20,000 for subsequent offenses.
- A licensee can provide the level of care for which the assisted living program has been approved as wells as any lower level of care. There are three levels of care: low, moderate and high.
- The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ) is responsible for investigating complaints concerning residents’ treatment and monitoring the performance of assisted living facilities.
- Before a resident can move into the facility, an assisted living manager or designee must determine whether admission is appropriate given the resident’s approved level of care and whether the resident’s needs can be met by the program.
- A service plan for each resident must be developed in a way that enhances his or her dignity, privacy, choices, capabilities, individuality and independence without compromising the health or reasonable safety of other residents.
- Staff must complete an incident report within 24 hours of having knowledge that an incident occurred.
- Residents have numerous rights, including: to be treated with consideration, respect and in full recognition of the resident’s dignity and individuality; to receive treatment, care, and services that are adequate, appropriate and in compliance with state, local and federal laws and regulations; to refuse treatment if the possible consequences of refusing it are fully explained; privacy; to be free from mental, verbal, sexual and physical abuse, neglect, involuntary seclusion and exploitation; to be free from physical and chemical restraints; and confidentiality.
- A staff member cannot misappropriate a resident’s assets or income, including spending the resident’s money against or without the consent of the resident or, if the resident is unable to consent, without the consent of the resident’s agent.
- If a regulation has been violated, an assisted living facility can be ordered to correct it in a certain way and within a given time frame; be restricted in the number of residents it may have; face a reduction in the levels of care allowed; be ordered to provide remedial instruction of staff in a specific area; be required to have a specific number of staff and/or staff with specific qualifications; and be inspected more frequently.
- An assisted living facility can be fined if it is unlicensed, there’s a deficiency in the facility’s operation or an ongoing pattern of deficiencies or if the facility falsely advertises its program.
- An assisted living facility can have its license immediately suspended if there’s a finding that the “public health, safety or welfare imperatively requires emergency action.”
These regulations set the minimum standards by which assisted living facilities can operate. Violations are not uncommon and may be caused by a simple mistake or may be evidence of staff and management being unwilling or unable to follow the necessary rules. An investigation can reveal whether the violation was an oversight or a sign that much more serious problems are occurring.
Attorney Roger Weinberg has the experience and skill to make assisted living facilities in Maryland accountable for their bad care. Because of their reputation for strong advocacy, the Law Offices of Roger Weinberg, LLC, often gets referrals from past clients and other attorneys. If you have observed, or even suspect, abuse or neglect of a loved one in an assisted living facility, call 410-825-3161, to begin an investigation that may result in compensation and justice.