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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

Posted

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?

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Posted

The term Suable or Law Suit can mean more than seeking monetary damages. I am only seeking the same rights that other people have in this facility. See, I was in the middle of moving to Waterville and getting an apartment when this happened. I was driving 100 miles a day just to get to college. I was staying at friends house, temporarily, when this accident happened. I told them I am currently "homeless". I keep getting the excuse about how people are only here temporarily, and not for a long term stay. I suspect the problem could be more of an issue about the term "homeless" that I used. I am "homeless" not "broke" I have money set aside to get an apartment in this city. Besides, my previous landlord said I could move back there at anytime.

Thomas J. Wagner

Thomas J. Wagner

Posted

Again, you want to file a civil suit to force a facility to allow you to watch your own tv rather than theirs

Asker

Posted

The problem is that other people in this facility are allowed to have their own TV's. I was told that because I am supposed to be a short term resident, I am not allowed to have my own TV here. Other people in this facility have their own property (including TV's) that they use with no problem. When I first came to this facility, I asked on of the nurses if I could bring my own. It is very light, inexpensive, and easier on the eyes. She told me that other people in this facility have this allowance, so it should be no problem. So, I had a friend bring it buy. When the social worker came buy and asked about my situation, I mentioned I am homeless at the moment. I was in town looking for an apartment because my commute of 100 miles a day to go to school was a bit much. Part of my goals for discharge is to find an apartment. The next day, the director of nursing for the facility came in and told me I am not allowed to have my TV, because I am here for only a short time. She said "This is not a permanent situation. You are not going to live here." The thing is, I have money in the bank to get an apartment with, I have broken my leg during this transition time. My doctor told me that I will be laid up for 6-8 weeks in here, so I was just make myself more comfortable. Even some of the staff have told me they do not understand because people on other units are allowed this. They say that she is on a "power trip." I think it might be that she thinks I am trying to stay here with some permanence? This is where my issue lies. Other residents on this floor are allowed to have laptops, radios, and other personal electronic devices. MY TV has been sitting on the floor of my room for almost a week now. I am compliant, but when the reason for this is not clearly defined, where does this leave the average patient?

Posted

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.

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Posted

The term Suable or Law Suit can mean more than seeking monetary damages. I am only seeking the same rights that other people have in this facility. See, I was in the middle of moving to Waterville and getting an apartment when this happened. I was driving 100 miles a day just to get to college. I was staying at friends house, temporarily, when this accident happened. I told them I am currently "homeless". I keep getting the excuse about how people are only here temporarily, and not for a long term stay. I suspect the problem could be more of an issue about the term "homeless" that I used. I am "homeless" not "broke" I have money set aside to get an apartment in this city. Besides, my previous landlord said I could move back there at anytime.

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Posted

The additional info does not change your situation.

Posted

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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Posted

That is where it gets confusing, I looked for differences between long term versus short term facilities, but could find none. It is more about the question of patient rights, considering other people at this facility are allowed to bring their own TV.

Jonathan R. Miller

Jonathan R. Miller

Posted

Try complaining to the patient ombudsman, or maybe the hospital social worker.

Asker

Posted

and the term Suable or Law Suit can mean more than seeking monetary damages. I am only seeking the same rights that other people have in this facility...

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