You have many special rights as a nursing home resident under both Maryland and federal law. Nursing homes must give you a copy of the “Residents’ Bill of Rights” upon admission. Nursing homes also must post the rights. A violation of these rights can cost the nursing home up to $10,000 per incident in fines.

Your rights include:

  • The right to receive information about the nursing home.
  • The right to participate in your own care.
  • The right to privacy and confidentiality.
  • The right to be treated with consideration, respect, and dignity.
  • The right to be free from physical, verbal, sexual and mental abuse.
  • The right to visits from friends, family, advocates, ombudsmen, social services providers, and doctors, as you choose.
  • The right to make independent choices.
  • The right to complain about problems.
  • The right to examine your medical records.
  • The right to a safe and secure transfer or discharge.

You have many detailed rights, and this brochure does not list them all. If something bad happens and you think your rights were violated, you should take action. Read the Laws & Regulation: MD Code Health - General §19-343, 42 CFR 483.10 State regulations are in COMAR 10.07.09.*

Protecting Your Rights

If you think your rights were violated, you have several ways to get help. Pick from the options listed below, depending on what seems right for you.

The law says that the nursing home cannot take action against you based on your complaints.

Contact the Long Term Care Ombudsman

The Long Term Care Ombudsman is a free advocate for residents who will try to help you resolve your concerns. The Ombudsman will assist you with voicing complaints to nursing home staff and to the Office of Health Care Quality and can help you find an attorney or other resources to help you. The Ombudsman will keep your information confidential and will not act without your permission. The Ombudsman makes regular visits to nursing homes. You can also call for assistance. To find your local Ombudsman, call the statewide office at 1-800-243-3425.

Complain to the Resident Council

A resident council is a group of residents who meet regularly to discuss their concerns. Any resident can join the council. If there is a resident council, the nursing home must listen to their concerns. The nursing home must also act upon the concerns and recommendations of the residents. Nursing facility staff may not attend a resident council meeting unless invited by the resident council. Read the Regulation: COMAR

Complain to the Family Council

A family council is a group of family members who meet regularly to discuss their concerns. Any family member can join the family council. If there is a family council, the nursing home must respond to all written questions and concerns from them within 14 days. Read the Law & Regulation: MD Code Health - General § 19-1416, COMAR

File a Grievance with the Nursing Home Administrator

Nursing homes must have a procedure for grievances or complaints. The nursing home must respond to your complaint within 30 days. Read the Regulation: COMAR

File a Complaint with the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ)

OHCQ investigates complaints against nursing homes. OHCQ may impose severe fines if the nursing home is found at fault. It is also in charge of licensing nursing homes. Contact OHCQ at 1-877-402-8219 to file a complaint.

Report Abuse or Fraud

The Maryland Attorney General’s Office, Medicaid Fraud Division focuses on resident abuse in nursing homes. If you have a concern about resident abuse, you can call them at 410-576-6521. In addition, if you want to report fraud, waste, or abuse, you can contact the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Office of the Inspector General’s Hotline at 866-770-7175.


This page contributed by the Legal Aid Long Term Care Assistance Project. You may contact them at (800) 367-7563.

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Is this legal advice?

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