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Hello, Is not allowing me to use my LCD TV that my friend brought over a violation of patient rights? Is this suable?

Waterville, ME |
Filed under: Civil rights

I am a recipient of Medicare. I broke my leg 2 weeks ago and had to get surgery. I was admitted into Mount St. Josephs Residence and Rehabilitation Center in Waterville, ME. My friend brought over my 32" Seiki LED flat panel TV, so I can watch more clearly, the center only provides a little 20" TV.

After it was plugged in and working, the head of nursing for the facility said that the priviledge of having personal property like a TV is only for someone who is in the Residential part of the facility, since I am in the Short Term Rehab section, I can not use it.

According to the following guidelines I got form the Medicare Website, I should be allowed:
•Keep and use your personal belongings and property as long as they don't interfere with the rights, health, or safety of others.

I was told by my doctor that I might be here for 6 to 8 weeks. I was told that I do not have the same rights as someone in the long term residential section of this center. What are the difference between the Rights of a short term patient and a long term patient in a care facility?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. As far as civil (constitutional) rights go, it would appear that the facility is private so there are no constitutional rights implicated. Whether there are stautory rights that are violated, I doubt it. As a practical matter do you really want to go to the expense of a civil suit over a TV?

  2. You did a great job of laying out your issues--something eight tenths of question askers fail to do--well done.

    My sense is that the federal government did NOT intend that facilities would have to make arrangemetnts for patients to bring in their own personal large screen TV's into a facility.

    Likely, your rights regarding a flat panel TV will turn on the Rehab Center's rules and regulations. Recommend you review those relevant documents for initial guidance. Even if you find no specific prohibition against the TV you brought, I can foresee the facility still prohibiting the TV on grounds that (1) its an issue of first impression and they hadn't noodled through all the issues (2)rights of others, (3) insurance issues and (4) although a stretch, perhaps safety too.

    Best option is to negotiate with the facility Administrator on a one-on-one basis.

    I wish you a speedy recovery whether its in front of a 20" or a 32".

    NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. DO NOT RELY ON ANY ADVICE YOU RECEIVE FROM ME OR ANY OTHER ATTORNEY IN THIS FORUM. Legal advice comes after a complete review of the facts and relevant documents and an expressed (written) agreement of representation that forms attorney-client confidentiality. Neither of these two events can occur in this forum. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. His answers to any Avvo question are rooted in general legal principles--NOT your specific state laws. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this or any other matter.

  3. If I understand correctly you are asking whether you can sue because you are being permitted to watch a 20-inch TV but prohibited from watching your 32-inch TV?

    If so, I see no basis for a lawsuit. You have no damages from being denied access to a larger-screen TV. You have no 1st amendment or other constitutional right to watch TV on a screen size that you prefer.

    Just a guess, but I assume the Medicare guidelines that you found online apply to long-term facilities, not short-term rehab.

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