On September 29, 2016, Medicare issued a rule preventing nursing homes from utilizing arbitration clauses and allowing nursing home patients to exercise their rights to resolve disputes in the courts. Previously, it had been widespread practice throughout the nursing home industry to force disputes with residents, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse, neglect and nursing home malpractice claims into a private arbitration system. This essentially allows nursing homes to keep some events or allegations away from the general public as most private arbitrations are usually only accessible to the parties involved.
Nursing home neglect, abuse, and harassment are a widespread problem throughout the United States. The nursing home misconduct is primarily fueled by the profit motive which incentivizes nursing homes to hire incompetent staff, to under-staff or to outright mistreat patients for the purposes of increasing the profit margin. Cases have been brought where patients have been murdered, strangled by roommates, mistreated by staff, neglected, and outright abused.
As Americans, everybody has a legal right to the court system. The court system provides an avenue for nursing home patients to seek legal redress.
The new rules prevent nursing homes (that are receiving federal funding) from enforcing arbitration clauses within their Resident Agreement. This is usually the agreement that patients or their representatives sign upon admission to the facility These arbitration clauses deprive nursing home residents of their right of access to the courts and have long been a practice in the industry. Millions of elderly Americans in nursing homes were unknowingly being deprived of this fundamental right. Arbitration keeps embarrassing practices of nursing homes under the wraps and will generally not show up on a public records search. DO NOT SIGN NURSING HOME ARBITRATION AGREEMENTS!
If you, a friend or a family member have been mistreated by a nursing home, you must hold the nursing home accountable, not only for the victim, but to preserve the rights of future and existing nursing home residents. It is only through the exercise of your legal rights or that of a loved one that the nursing home will finally get the message that this conduct is illegal and unacceptable.
If you wish to discuss the conduct of a nursing home toward you, a friend or a family member, contact Rolf Louis Patberg and the the attorneys at Patberg Law Firm at 1-800-471-6880, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our contact form.