Nursing homes are the wave of the future for elder care. Every credible research institution and government agency predicts a rapid expansion of elder care facilities, especially nursing homes, as Baby Boomers continue to retire. Unfortunately, for many residents, nursing homes are inscrutable institutions that use medical jargon and release of liability forms to avoid liability. But, the federal government took a big step and severely restricted one commonly abused method, arbitration clauses.
Arbitration clauses are binding provisions that force residents who have disputes with their nursing home to submit to arbitration. The problem with arbitration is that, usually, it is coupled with a waiver for judicial relief and both parties are forced to pay for the arbitrator. Traditionally, the party with superior financial resources spent most of the fees. But, “most” is a relative term, particularly when you are talking about expensive arbitrators with people who are on a fixed income.
The result was these arbitration clauses used as cudgels to discourage litigation against the bad nursing home. Furthermore, the arbitrator is incentivized to rule for the nursing home (or slant her decision as much in the nursing home’s favor as possible). Consider that the nursing home is a constant source of business for an arbitrator, while the elderly resident is a one-off client. Therefore, the arbitrator is an economic incentive to work with the nursing home.
In response, the federal government passed a new rule which prohibits nursing homes that receive federal monies from using arbitration clauses. If you believe that your loved one was abused while receiving nursing home care, then you should contact a lawyer at your earliest convenience. One of the best deterrents of future bad behavior is letting the nursing home know that you