Dumping and Transfer Trauma: Wrongful Discharge Abuse on the Rise

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice
According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, the number of nursing home complaints for wrongfully discharging patients in these ways has DOUBLED over the past ten years. Dumping and Transfer Trauma are two types of nursing home abuse that, although often overlooked, are quickly becoming an epidemic. Dumping and Transfer Trauma are similar in that they are two types of abuse that stem from wrongfully discharging a nursing home resident that is in desperate need of care. 

Dumping is a term used to describe when nursing home facilities refuse to re-admit a Medicaid patient after they have had to go to the hospital. Patients who’ve been “dumped” have nowhere else to go and the hospital they have just come from must then find them a bed in another nursing home or in a shelter. Transfer trauma refers to the trauma "often experienced by transferring an elderly patient to another facility". In most cases, although patients have become comfortable in their facility’s surroundings, they are transferred to another nursing home due to a change from private insurance to Medicaid. Oftentimes, this drastic change results in the resident suffering from severe depression and anxiety.
 
It is illegal for your nursing home to discharge you or a family member simply because you are on Medicaid. If you have a complaint against a nursing home for wrongful discharge, you do have options. The New York State Division of Quality and Surveillance for Nursing Homes and Intermedicate Care Facilities (DQS) is responsible for investigating complaints and incidents against nursing homes in New York State. Complaints and incidents may be submitted by fax (518-408-1157) or by mail to: Centralized Complaint Intake Unit, 161 Delaware Avenue, Delmar, New York 12054. You can also call the NYS Department of Health's Nursing Home Complaint Hotline at 1-888-201-4563, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The most serious complaints and incidents require Department investigators to conduct interviews, review medical records, and other facility documentation, and perform other activities on-site at the nursing home. If an investigation determines that any of the allegations did occur, then the allegation is sustained.

The investigation will also determine whether a nursing home has failed to meet federal or state regulations. In cases where the Department of Health determines that the nursing home violated a regulation, the Department will issue a citation to the nursing home. The nursing home must then submit a plan of correction that is acceptable to the Department of Health and correct the deficient practice.

Additionally, the State Office for the Aging (SOFA) employs an ombudsman in each county of New York. An ombudsman is an advocate for residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Ombudsman provide information about how to find a nursing home that is right for you or your family member and what to do to get quality care. The ombudsman can also assist you with a complaint against a nursing home. The State Office for the Aging can be reached at 1-800-342-9871.

If you or a family member have been wrongfully discharged from your nursing home facility, file a complaint immediately and consult an attorney. You do not have to put up with being "dumped" or suffer from transfer trauma after being wrongfully discharged.
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