Articles Posted in Nursing Home Neglect & Abuse

The Florida Supreme Court has settled a dispute among appellate courts in the state over whether nursing home defendants may compel arbitration in cases where the agreement was signed by a friend or family member. Essentially, unless there has been a court order investing that individual with those legal powers, the agreement won’t be enforceable. oldhands2

The decision in the case, Mendez v. Hampton Court Nursing Center, resolves a dispute between the Third District Court of Appeals and other state appellate courts. The 3rd DCA had ruled an arbitration agreement signed by a nursing home resident’s son was valid and enforceable because the father was mentally incapacitated and the son was serving as his representative. However, the state high court ruled the father’s mental capacity should not factor in to whether the son had legal standing to sign the arbitration provision in his nursing home admission papers.

According to court records, the father was admitted to the nursing home back in 2009. His son signed his admission paperwork, including the arbitration contract.  Continue reading

Florida insurance regulators recently revealed that two insurers have filed requests for sizable rate hikes – ranging from 20 percent up to 114 percent – in premiums for patients receiving long-term care. One of those, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, has asked for a rate hike that would boost its average premium from $1,600 to $2,600 annually. Another, Unum Life Insurance Company of America, would increase its average premium from $580 to $860. Collectively, these insurers have about 70,000 insureds across the state, most in South Florida. nurses

With growing concerns for the cost of insurance coverage of long-term care, thinking about long-term placement can be overwhelming. If your loved one is no longer able to live safely on their own, trusting their care to a complete stranger can be tough. Yes, expenses are a priority, but you also need to know their needs are being met and they will be protected.

This is going to be an area of growing concern as the U.S. population 65 and over is going to grow exponentially by 2050 – from 43 million in 2012 to 84 million in 2050. Comprehensive reviews on elder abuse indicate approximately 10 percent of the elderly are victims of some form of abuse – physical, verbal, sexual, financial exploitation or neglect. The good news is these incidents are being reported with greater frequency – but it is still largely under-reported. Because many victims are unable to speak out for themselves, it requires family members to be vigilant.  Continue reading

Most if not all nursing homes these days require new residents or representatives to sign a residential agreement upon admission. Sometimes, these agreements simply state that the resident has an obligation to pay their bill. But increasingly, these agreements include clauses called “arbitration agreements.” signature

These agreements prohibit residents from suing the nursing home in court, requiring instead that all disputes be settled before an arbitrator. The forum isn’t public, the arbitrator doesn’t have to abide by state and federal laws and because arbitrators get a substantial chunk of their income from resolution of these disputes, they are more likely to decide them in favor of the defendant nursing home.

When a resident or family member files a nursing home negligence lawsuit, the nursing home will file a motion to compel arbitration, and if the judge grants it, the case goes to an arbitrator. While courts have generally been favorable of arbitration, they have also increasingly found reason not to enforce the arbitration clause. Often, it has to do with the agreement being unconscionable. However, sometimes it’s a because the person who signed it did not have the legal authority on behalf of the resident to do so. In the recent case of Johnson v. Heritage Healthcare, the South Carolina Supreme Court decided that the nursing home waived its right to arbitration by participating in the court proceedings for months without filing a motion to compel.  Continue reading

It has become standard for nursing homes and assisted care facilities in Florida to require new patients and/or their family members to sign arbitration agreements upon admission. These agreements are designed with the intention of patient signing away the right to sue in the event of nursing home abuse, mistreatment, neglect or other violation of rights.

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Although they are binding contracts, courts in Florida are increasingly refusing to accept the validity of these arbitration agreements on the grounds they are unconscionable or that the individual who signed on the patient’s behalf did not have the legal authority to do so.

It is critical for those exploring a nursing home abuse lawsuit to discuss the arbitration issue with an experienced injury lawyer because the avenue in which a case is decided could have a significant impact on the outcome. Arbitration tends to result in substantially less favorable results for plaintiffs. The damage awards are lower and the likelihood of winning is also less. It’s worthwhile to fight for your right to have the case heard in a court of law.  Continue reading

A nursing home medication error that proved fatal for a resident in Minnesota is now going to be costly for the facility. State authorities have cited the center for neglect after the resident, who suffered from severe cognitive disabilities, died of the effects of being given 10 times the normal prescribed dose of morphine. medicaldoctor

Staff at the facility, an acute-care hospital with a nursing home attached, failed to accurately transcribe the man’s medication from the doctor’s written orders.

Within less than two hours of receiving that injected dose of morphine, patient had died.

State investigators concluded the center did not have adequate policies in place to make sure medications were transcribed accurately and administered correctly.  Continue reading

Should the elderly entering a nursing home be forced to sign away their right to justice in order to simply receive the care they need?oldhands5

Many lawmakers think not, and are mulling a measure that would do away with mandatory arbitration agreements for new nursing home residents. Mandatory arbitration agreements are outlawed in only a few states (which do still allow for voluntary arbitration agreements).

The federal government is now considering implementing a number of safeguards that would regulate the way nursing homes present arbitration agreements when patients are admitted. However, 34 U.S. senators and attorneys general from 15 states say this doesn’t go far enough; they want the agreements blocked entirely. Continue reading