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California Court Strikes Down Nursing Home Law

California Court Strikes Down Nursing Home Law
A California judge has thrown out a law that allows nursing homes to make medical decisions for mentally incompetent residents.

A California judge has ruled a law that allows nursing homes to make treatment decisions for mentally incompetent residents is unconstitutional.

The law has been in place for more than 20 years. It says if a doctor determines a resident is mentally incompetent, and they don’t have a representative, then a nursing home can choose the course of care.

Last week, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo decided the rule violated patients' rights to due process.


The nonprofit California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform successfully challenged the law. Executive Director Pat McGinnis said nursing home staff should never have been given the final word.

“When you’re talking about life decisions, and you’re gonna decide in the nursing home whether or not that person should live or die, that seems to me to be a court responsibility," McGinnis said.

The nursing home industry warns the ruling may make it tougher for residents to get timely care.

Judge Grillo said patients' rights outweigh any potential problems in the way nursing homes operate as a result of his decision.