By: Basch & Keegan
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Rule Allows Residents & Families to Sue Nursing Homes for Abuse & Neglect
Last fall, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a broad revision of nursing home regulations.
The goal? To help improve care for the country’s 1.4 million nursing home residents.
Some of the revised regulations include:
- Strengthening the residents’ control over important decisions in their lives. For example, the rules allow people to receive any visitor they choose (not just relatives) whenever they choose, without restricted hours, so long as the visitors do not disturb other residents.
- Allowing residents to choose their roommate, assuming both parties agree.
- Making meals and snacks available to residents whenever they wish to eat, not just at specific mealtimes.
- Providing “reasonable care” of residents’ personal belongings in the event that they are lost or stolen by requiring residents to sign waivers.
- Expanding staff training to the areas of elder abuse prevention and care for patients with dementia.
- Nursing homes are also required to designate an infection-control officer, and establish a system to monitor antibiotic use.
- Eliminating “dumping” – i.e. when a nursing home sends a resident to a hospital and then refuses to readmit the resident after they are discharged. The new regulation provides protection against being bounced out of nursing homes, and extends those protections to someone who has been hospitalized but intends to return.
Overall, the changes are focused around improving the nursing home environment, making it a more comfortable atmosphere for the residents.
The biggest change of all is the elimination of the requirement of residents to sign agreements to submit future disputes to negotiation. This means that residents and families now have the right to take nursing homes to court in a wrongful care lawsuit.
In the past, many families and residents were forced to go to arbitration, keeping the abuse and neglect in these cases behind closed doors, thus leaving the public in the dark.
A recent rule bans arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts. Nursing homes can now be held accountable for any wrongdoing to their residents, and the public will be able to better determine which facilities to avoid when placing elderly family members.
Identifying Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
It can sometimes be difficult to detect nursing home abuse or neglect, especially if there are no physical identifiers. However, we advise that you carefully observe your family member during regular visits. If you notice that they are more aggressive or irritable than normal, it could be a sign of abuse or neglect. Remember to take their accusations seriously, no matter their mental state.
Do you think you have a basis for a claim against a nursing home? Call us. Your family and the resident may be able to recover damages for pain and suffering, along with other expenses.
Learn more about filing a nursing home abuse and neglect claim.