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Judge strikes down state law giving nursing homes power over patients without families

A California statute allowing nursing homes to make medical decisions for residents incapable of doing that for themselves and who have no family or legal representatives has been ruled unconstitutional. Advocates for nursing home residents say the ruling offers long overdue protection for the rights of the elderly. Rights that already exist for prisoners and the mentally ill. In June the Alameda County Superior Court ruled that nursing homes must notify unrepresented residents when they are being deemed incompetent and may not administer newly-prescribed antipsychotic drugs or make end-of-life decisions for these residents without obtaining court authorization or a court appointed public guardian or conservator.