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PRESS RELEASE
June 25th, 2015

CANHR v. Chapman: Court Order Protects Nursing Home Residents



For more information contact:
Professor Mort Cohen, Golden Gate University Law School
(415) 442-6678           mcohen@ggu.edu   

Anthony Chicotel, CANHR
(415) 974-5171           tony@canhr.org

 

Oakland  -- The Alameda County Superior Court has ruled nursing homes that give mind-altering drugs and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment to “unrepresented” residents are violating the state constitution and must stop immediately. The case, CANHR v. Chapman, was brought by Professor Mort Cohen of Golden Gate University Law School on behalf of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) and several nursing home residents against the California Department of Public Health (DPH)

Since 1992, California nursing homes have used Health and Safety Code §1418.8, a law allowing nursing homes to make routine medical decisions for residents who lack mental capacity and do not have a surrogate decision-maker, to drastically limit the lives and liberty of their residents. DPH has interpreted this law to permit facilities to tie residents to their beds, force them to take antipsychotic drugs, or authorize the withdrawal of treatment necessary to sustain life. 

The Court found Section 1418.8 facially unconstitutional for its failure to provide residents with any notice they had been determined “incapacitated” or that medical decisions were being considered without their input. The Court also held that the state constitution prohibits nursing homes from drugging residents or ending their medical treatment without more due process than Section 1418.8 provides.

According to Professor Cohen, “The judge understood that what is convenient for nursing homes turns out to be highly intrusive for residents. This decision recognizes that people do not lose their rights to life and liberty simply because they live in a nursing home.”

Pat McGinnis, Executive Director of CANHR stated “This is an amazing victory for nursing home residents and all Californians. The decision will ensure that residents are protected from poorly considered treatment and are given the full respect that our constitution affords.”

 

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About CANHR: California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), is a statewide nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to improving the choices, care and quality of life for California’s long term care consumers. Through direct advocacy, community education, legislation and litigation it has been CANHR’s goal to educate and support long term care consumers and advocates regarding the rights and remedies under the law, and to create a united voice for long term care reform and humane alternatives to institutionalization.

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR)
650 Harrison Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94107
www.canhr.org