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New Rule Could Increase Transparency in Elder Care

By Randall & Stump excels in criminal defense, serving clients in Charlotte, NC & other surrounding cities.
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Category Blog
Monday, October 31, 2016

One of the most frightening aspects of putting someone you love into an assisted living care facility or nursing home is the prospect of elder abuse. Families search endlessly in order to find a facility that will not only provide their loved ones with the medical care and assistance that they need, but also the emotional care and love they deserve. Unfortunately, the raw truth about elder abuse can be hidden in the confines of confidential arbitration cases.

Many Abuse And Negligence Complaints Are Handled Through Arbitration

An increasing number of nursing homes are including arbitration clauses in their contracts, which force families to settle claims of elder abuse and disputes with the facility in arbitration rather than in the courtroom. While arbitration is often a quicker and more efficient way to settle a claim, it also shrouds the claim in  complete and total secrecy, making others unable to check the accuracy of safety records.

If The Nursing Home Receives Federal Funding, No More Arbitration

A new rule issued by the Health and Human Services Department now bars nursing homes that receive federal funding and have more than 1.5 million residents from including these arbitration clauses in their contracts. The rule becomes effective in November, but it only applies to new residents who are seeking care at these facilities.

Facts To Note About the Nursing Home Rule

  • The rule was initially proposed in 2015, in hopes of improving transparency and promoting full disclosure in the event of elder abuse disputes within a nursing home facility. When families file complaints against a nursing home, and the case is settled in arbitration, no one ever knows the facts or the results of the circumstances. This means that future families who are applying for a room within the facility may have no idea that there have been any complaints of elder abuse filed against the facility, ultimately placing their loved ones at risk.
  • Patient groups as well as legal professionals believe the rule will be beneficial, because patients are often enduring significant physical and emotional stress at the time they are looking for a nursing home or assisted living facility. They may not understand all of the fine print within the clauses, and they may unknowingly sign a contract with an arbitration clause.
  • Experts within the nursing home industry, however, disagree with the new rule. They feel it increases the time it takes to settle disputes with family members, as well as increases the legal costs for all parties involved, which gets passed on in the cost of care. 

Ultimately, families facing an already emotional decision deserve to have accurate, thorough and transparent information available to them. At this point in a person’s life, it’s important to verify that you are admitting them into a facility that prioritizes quality of care as well as quality of life. When facilities that receive federal funding include arbitration clauses, it forces families to blindly make a decision and hope that nothing happens to their loved one. If something terrible and unforeseen does occur, they will be forced to settle with the nursing home in a private, secretive and confidential manner – and this continues to hide the real truth from other unsuspecting families.

Get Legal Help If Your Loved One In A Nursing Home Has Been Abused

If you suspect that your eldeerly loved one is suffering abuse or neglect in a nursing home, don’t try to resolve the matter on your own. Nursing home operators are experienced at hiding their records and denying any wrongdoing. Contact a personal injury attorney who is familiar with elder abuse laws in North Carolina.

A personal injury at Randall & Stump will evaluate the details and evidence in your case, as well as provide you with in-depth information about the contract that you have signed with a nursing home. You need a qualified attorney who can help you negotiate with the nursing home facility in order to receive the compensation that you both need and deserve.

To find out more information about selecting a nursing home in North Carolina, evaluating nursing home resident contracts or filing a claim of elder abuse, contact one of our personal injury attorneys today.