Is it legal for my father's nursing home refuse to call me in an emergency?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Heartd asked...

My father is in a nursing home. My sister is POA. The nursing home is telling me I do not have to be called in a medical emergency. I have requested they call but they refuse. Can they do this under the laws of immediately family rights? Is there anything I can do to make them rethink this decision?


Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Nursing home administrators are required by law to inform family members about residents' changes in health"”including medical emergencies. However, some nursing homes have a policy of insisting that one family member be designated as the point of contact, and this usually passes legal muster.

If your sister is the designated contact person, and you do not trust that she will keep you in the information loop, then you need to take additional steps to get on the radar screen.

It sounds as if you may already have taken the first step: Contacting the nursing home administrator and explaining your situation"”simply informing him or her that you believe you will not learn of a medical emergency even though your sister may be apprised of the situation. Most will agree to take the simple step of making one extra call in these limited circumstances--especially if you give numbers or an email address to make notification relatively simple.

If your request falls on deaf ears, however, find out whether your mother's nursing home has a family or resident's council where you could make your concerns known and ask for a workable solution to keep you effectively informed.

Finally, consider contacting the nursing home's ombudsman for help. Ombudsmen are impartial people assigned to every nursing home trained to help residents and families work out problems there. You can find the ombudsman at your mother's nursing home through the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center at

Community Answers

Heartd answered...

Thank you so much Barbara! This is very useful advice for me.

Bless you.