Nursing home physicians can face a wide array of professional risk and legal responsibility: malpractice litigation and liability, even for patient care when they are not present at the facility, as well as institutions' overall risk regarding resident care. According to many nursing home physicians, the legal environment around nursing homes is becoming increasingly restrictive and intimidating.
A study by Marshall Kapp, of Southern Illinois University, and supported by the California HealthCare Foundation and The Commonwealth Fund, examines nursing home physicians' anxiety about legal liability and the consequent effects on quality of care and quality of life for residents. The project considered the following issues: physicians' unwillingness to practice in nursing homes, premature or unnecessary transfers of residents from facilities to hospitals, overuse or underuse of medical treatment, and the effect on residents' autonomy.
The resulting issue brief, Is There a Doctor in the House? Physician Liability Fears and Quality of Care in Nursing Homes, is available on the California HealthCare Foundation Web site.