Title 23
Health and Safety

Chapter 17.5
Rights of Nursing Home Patients

R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-17.5-12

§ 23-17.5-12. Visitors.

(a) Patients may associate and communicate privately with persons of their choice and shall be allowed freedom and privacy in sending and receiving mail.

(b) Posted reasonable visiting hours must be maintained in each home, with a minimum of four (4) hours daily.

(c) The facility shall permit the long term care ombudsman of the department of elderly affairs, and his or her designees as certified by that department, whose purposes include rendering assistance without charge to nursing home patients, to have access to the facility and its patients, if there is neither commercial purpose nor affect to the access, in order to:

(1) Visit, talk with, and make personal, social, and legal services available to all patients.

(2) Inform patients of their rights and entitlements, and their corresponding obligations, under federal and state laws by means of distribution of educational materials and discussion in groups and with individual patients.

(3) Assist patients in pursuing their legal rights regarding claims for public assistance, medical assistance, and social security benefits, as well as in all matters in which patients are aggrieved.

(4) Have access to all areas of the facility accessible to patients except the immediate living area of a patient who objects to the access.

(5) Engage in all other methods of assisting, advising, and representing patients so as to extend to them full enjoyment of their rights.

(d) Any ombudsman, as certified by the department of elderly affairs, shall have access at any time. Individual patients shall have the complete right to terminate or deny any visit by persons having access pursuant to this section. Communications between a patient and persons having access pursuant to this section shall be confidential, unless the patient authorizes the release of the information. The communication shall be conducted in privacy. The state shall protect and hold harmless the long term care ombudsman, and his or her designees, from financial loss and expense, including legal fees and costs, if any, arising out of any claim, demand or suit for damages resulting from acts or omissions committed in the discharge of his or her duties and within the scope of his or her employment which may constitute negligence, but which acts are not wanton, malicious or grossly negligent, as determined by a court of competent jurisdiction.

(e) No patient shall be punished or harassed by the facility or by its agents or employees because of the patient’s effort to avail himself or herself of his or her rights, or because of the activities of others having access pursuant to this section.

History of Section.
As enacted by P.L. 1978, ch. 235, § 1; P.L. 1982, ch. 88, § 1; P.L. 1991, ch. 289, § 1.