Rhode Island Nursing Home Neglect Laws

Damage Caps

In Rhode Island, damages awarded for medical malpractice are not subject to a cap. In cases for wrongful death there is no damages cap and when the defendant is found liable the minimum recovery is $250,000.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death actions in Rhode Island is 3 years. In wrongful death actions the time period begins from the date of death or its discovery.

Attorney’s Fees

The majority of personal injury actions, including nursing home neglect and abuse cases, are taken on a contingent fee basis. The Rhode Island Supreme Court has found that an attorney may collect a contingency fee under a contract with his client when he has “substantially performed” his duties and only “minor and relatively unimportant” matters remain at the time the client discharges the attorney. The contingent fee agreement should be in writing, and set forth what the attorney’s percentage will be, whether the client will be billed for costs and expenses, and whether deductions will be taken from the settlement or award prior to calculating the fee.

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Enforcement of Rhode Island Nursing Home Laws and Regulations

The placement of elderly patients, who often have debilitating conditions, into a nursing home creates the possibility for poor quality, neglectful care or even deliberate abuse. In an effort to combat improper care at nursing homes, federal and state laws guarantee certain minimum quality of care standards that must be met. Rhode Island nursing home residents are assured respectful and dignified treatment by staff and medical providers. This includes the right to proper medical treatment.

Under the law, each resident’s medical needs must be properly met, and the patient may not be subjected to any form of neglect or abuse. Nursing homes are required to protect and promote the rights of residents. Some important resident rights include:

  • the right to be fully informed of their medical condition and overall health in terms and language they understand
  • the right to make decisions that affect their health care and
  • the right to choose their primary care physician
  • the right to access and review their medical records
  • the right to be subject to chemical or physical restraints barring certain limited circumstances
  • the right to file a grievance or complaint without reprisal
  • the right not to be transferred or discharged unless warranted by medical condition or if a patient no longer medically requires nursing home care.

In Rhode Island, The Office of Facilities Regulation monitors nursing homes to ensure compliance with state laws and regulations. Inspectors conduct surprise on-site inspections annually to ensure quality of care and quality of life for patients. Additionally, unannounced follow-up inspections may be conducted after a facility is cited for a violation. Safety and health violations are documented in a “Statement of Deficiencies” (SOD) report.

Most Rhode Island nursing homes participate in Medicare and Medicaid payment programs. The Office of Facilities Regulation certifies that nursing home facilities meet the federal standards associated with Medicare and Medicaid programs. As part of the certification process, the OFR performs unannounced inspections every nine to fifteen months and short inspections to follow-up.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only.  It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice.  The legal statutes, laws and procedures contained in this article may not be current and may have been revised since the time of publication or contain errors. An attorney can provide legal guidance only after reviewing the details of your individual case.

Image via Flickr via Dennis Jarvis

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