Involuntary Discharge

Understanding Facilities Involuntary Transfers/Discharges

Facilities must meet certain conditions for involuntary discharge.

Do you have a loved one in a facility? Most of the time facilities provide compassionate, quality care to their residents. However, occasionally facilities will involuntarily discharge or transfer a resident against their wishes. A facility may only transfer or discharge the resident under the following conditions:

  1. It is necessary for the resident’s welfare and the resident’s needs cannot be met in the facility;
  2. The resident’s health has improved sufficiently so the resident no longer needs the services provided;
  3. The safety of individuals in the facility is endangered;
  4. The health of individuals in the facility would otherwise be endangered;
  5. The resident has failed, after reasonable and appropriate notice, to ensure payment for a stay at the facility.
  6. If the facility is going out of business.

Some examples of when it would be appropriate to transfer a resident are if the resident could transfer to lower level care, the resident is continuing to physically abuse another resident, a resident persists in smoking in the facility, or a private-pay resident promises to pay but doesn’t.

Examples of situations that would not meet the criteria for discharge are if the resident aimlessly wanders, the resident is making loud sounds, the resident’s refusal for treatment as long as it doesn’t endanger another resident, or conversion from a private pay rate to a payment at the Medicaid rate. If a resident is deemed to be “difficult” that is not reason enough for a facility to seek discharge.

If there has been a significant change in the resident but it is not an emergency, the facility must conduct an assessment to determine if a new care plan would allow the facility to meet the resident’s needs.

The resident’s record must document the facility’s efforts to resolve the situation before the decision to transfer is made. In addition, the facility must give a 30-day written notice to the resident of its intent to transfer, which includes a statement that the resident has the right to appeal the action to the State, and the facility must also include the name, address and phone number of the agency responsible for the advocacy of the resident.

Facilities exist to care for people with physical and cognitive problems. Problems present opportunities for finding solutions that allow facilities and residents to work together, and for facilities to do better for the communities they serve.


Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all of Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity.  If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

August 2017