Nancy Reynolds

Assisted living operators can unintentionally invite lawsuits when they deliver care that goes beyond what a state will allow, according to Nancy Reynolds, an attorney with LeClairRyan.

“In light of the different levels of care that can affect negligence duties, assisted living facilities should be very careful when considering (family requests for additional services),” she wrote in the December issue of Westlaw Journal Health Law.

Reynolds noted that assisted living facility litigation is fraught with confusion over how duties of negligence are defined.

“The answer is not clear and can be dependent on statutory construction,” she added. Part of the challenge is that specific qualifying conditions that bump a resident from assisted living to skilled care vary across states.

“Remain true to the well-defined limitations for assisted living facility admission or suffer the consequences when the higher level of care assumed is not provided,” she cautioned.