Turbin Chu Heidt Attorneys at Law
Call for a Free Consultation 808-528-4000
contact us
contact Menu

Nursing home lawsuits may be restricted

Families rely on nursing homes to care for their vulnerable relatives. Lawsuits may be the only remedy to seek compensation for a nursing home injury or other medical negligence at these facilities.

However, the federal government is considering revoking a rule that would have assisted nursing home residents with suing nursing homes in Hawaii and across the nation. Issued in Sept. 2016, the regulation prevented nursing homes from making consumers agree to settle disputes through binding arbitration and surrender their right to sue.

These facilities had routinely required patients and their families to sign binding arbitration agreements. Stressed family members often miss this clause in a 30 to 40 page document when they admit a loved one into a facility for care. Residents who sign these agreements may also misunderstand this term after being transferred from a hospital and living in the facility for several days before being presented with the document.

Arbitration agreements had previously blocked lawsuits where the patients and negligence victims were most vulnerable. Almost half of all residents have dementia, such as Alzheimer's Disease, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Inspectors found many cases where residents received injuries from infected bedsores, errors with medications, malnutrition, dehydration or sexual assault.

The federal government now claims that these agreements benefit providers and consumers by providing for quicker and cheaper claim resolution. It also said that money spent by nursing homes on legal costs associated with litigation may be better spent on care. In a related action, the Department of Health and Human Services also instructed its inspectors to seek lower financial penalties for violations because the penalties are overly punitive and the funds can be spent on improving care.

However, attorney generals representing 16 states have opposed this recent proposal. Thirty-one senators also objected and argued that nursing homes should not be able to suppress wrongdoing through binding arbitration because Medicaid and Medicare spend $80 billion on nursing home care each year.

The regulation was previously blocked by a federal judge in Mississippi until a trial. However, he also agreed that executing arbitration agreements raises public policy concerns because residents and family members are anxious to obtain admission to the facility.

Seeking redress for nursing home negligence or medical malpractice may require the assistance of an attorney, especially with the diminished federal enforcement. A lawyer can help assure that compensation is obtained and rights are protected.

Source: The New York Times, "Trump Moves to Impede Consumer Lawsuits Against Nursing Homes," Robert Pear, Aug. 18, 2017

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

contact us free consultations

office location

Turbin Chu Heidt Attorneys at Law
737 Bishop Street
Suite 2730
Honolulu, HI 96813

Phone: 808-379-3586
Phone: 808-528-4000
Fax: 808-599-1984
Honolulu Law Office Map