Pennsylvania nursing home laws exist to regulate services, policies, and standards of care in the state’s nursing facilities. Under Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Nursing Home Abusenursing home laws, residents and their families are entitled to certain rights to ensure adequate and fair treatment. The primary goal of Pennsylvania nursing home laws is to ensure that residents receive the highest possible level of care to maintain and preserve their current health as much as medically possible.

Pennsylvania Nursing Home Resident Rights

Pennsylvania nursing home laws state that residents have the right to:

  • Be informed of their personal medical conditions
  • Be informed of services and charges
  • Be informed in writing of resident rights, policies, and procedures of the facility
  • Choose their own physician and pharmacy
  • Be free of restraints, unless medically specified by a physician
  • Manage their own personal finances
  • Confidentiality of personal and medical records
  • Participate in their own plan of care, including the ability to refuse treatment
  • Maintain privacy and be treated with respect and dignity
  • Use their own possessions and clothing
  • Voice a grievance or concern without retaliation from the facility
  • Receive immediate visitor access by family members and reasonable access by others
  • Not be discharged or transferred, except for medical reasons, non-payment, permanent closing of the facility, or welfare of the resident or other residents


Nursing Home Program Standards

Pennsylvania nursing home laws include program standards that apply to all long-term care facilities. These program standards outline nursing home protocol regarding aspects such as nursing services, dietary services, physician services, the resident’s care plan, and dental and social services.

Nursing Services

Sufficient nursing staff must be available to meet each resident’s needs on a 24-hour basis. Staff members include registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs). A qualified, licensed RN must act as a full-time nursing services director. This nursing services director maintains administrative authority, accountability, and responsibility of the nursing staff’s functions and activities.

Required Pennsylvania nursing home staff ratios are as follows:

  • 59 or fewer residents: 1 daytime RN, 1 evening RN, 1 nighttime RN or LPN
  • 60 to 150 residents: 1 RN at all times
  • 151 to 250 residents: 1 RN and 1 LPN at all times
  • 251 to 500 residents: 2 RNs at all times
  • 501 to 1,000 residents: 4 daytime RNs and 3 evening and nighttime RNs
  • 1,001 and more residents: 8 daytime RNs and 6 evening and nighttime RNs

Dietary Services

Pennsylvania nursing home laws require that all facilities plan menus a minimum of two weeks in advance. The nutritional needs of all residents must be met. A full-time qualified supervisor of dietary services must maintain responsibility for each facility’s dietary services. Dietary personnel are required to practice hygienic techniques for food handling. These techniques include clean clothing, high personal cleanliness, and hand-washing before work and after using the restroom.

Physician Services

The attending physician is responsible for the resident’s medical evaluation and a planned regimen for resident care. Before or when a resident is admitted, the facility should be able to obtain diagnoses, medical findings, and orders of immediate care from a physician. No longer than 14 days after facility admission, each resident should receive an initial medical assessment which includes a summary of prior treatment and his or her rehabilitation potential.

Resident Care Plan

Pennsylvania nursing home facilities must have a designated individual who is responsible for coordinating and implementing a written care plan for each resident. A registered nurse (RN) must develop the resident care plan’s nursing assessment portion. If the resident is able, he or she retains the right to participate in developing and reviewing the care plan. Once developed, the resident care plan must be accessible by any nursing home personnel who care for the resident.

Dental and Social Services

Pennsylvania nursing home laws require that each resident is entitled to routine dental care, as well as 24-hour emergency dental care when needed. Social services must be provided in order to promote the preservation of each resident’s mental and physical health. If a nursing home cares for more than 120 residents, a qualified, full-time social worker must be employed.

Pennsylvania Filial Responsibility Statutes

Pennsylvania is one of the 30 U.S. states that maintain filial responsibility statutes. Filial responsibility statutes impose duties that require adult children to exercise care for their parents when in need. Among the 30 states, roughly two-thirds allow family members to be sued by long-term care facilities for recovery of unpaid costs. Pennsylvania is also included in these states.



Gleckman, Howard. “Will Adult Children Have to Pay Mom’s Nursing Home Costs?.” Forbes. Forbes, 16 May 2012. Web. 18 Sep 2013. <>.

“The Pennsylvania Code.” Pennsylvania Department of Health. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Web. 18 Sep 2013. <>.

“§ 211.11. Resident care plan.” The Pennsylvania Code. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Web. 18 Sep 2013. <>.

“§ 211.12. Nursing services.” The Pennsylvania Code. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Web. 18 Sep 2013. <>.

“§ 211.2. Physician services.” The Pennsylvania Code. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Web. 18 Sep 2013. <>.

“§ 211.6. Dietary services.” The Pennsylvania Code. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Web. 18 Sep 2013. <>.