Nursing Home Abuse: Losing the Right to Sue
Presently, many nursing homes require residents to sign a contract which includes a clause known as forced arbitration – or the “no sue” contract. They usually bury the wording in the fine print. Consequently, injured, abused or neglected residents and their families waive the right to take nursing home owners to court.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a rule in 2016 that prohibited forced arbitration contracts in any nursing home that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding. Most residents of long-term care facilities rely on these federal funds. Nursing home owners and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have fought the rule. They have won court rulings delaying enforcement. Now it looks as though they will be successful in removing the rule altogether.
Consumer group such as The Fair Arbitration Now (FAN) Coalition are lobbying Congress to keep the ban on forced arbitration.
“These contract clauses force people to give up their right to go to court. Even if a company harms them or rips them off. Instead, consumers are pushed into secret arbitration,” the group’s website says. “In arbitration, there is no judge, jury, and decisions are rarely appealable. Arbitrators do not have to follow the law. Civil rights and consumer protection laws can become meaningless in arbitration. That’s why we need a federal law to make arbitration truly voluntary. Eliminating forced arbitration clauses from contracts will give us – consumers and employees – the power to choose court or arbitration after the dispute arises.”
Look for signs of abuse and report it.
Above all, caregivers and concerned loved ones should watch for signs of nursing home negligence. Take care to notice bed sores, dirty linens, or unwashed clothing, along with general signs of poor hygiene. Look for signs of weight loss or dehydration. Also, pay attention to mood swings, signs of anxiety or depression and general alertness.
Accordingly, concerns should be reported to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.
You may want to seek the advice of a nursing home abuse attorney if someone you know has died or been injured through nursing home abuse or neglect.