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Nursing Home Arbitration Clauses Disadvantage Residents and Contribute to Substandard Care

According to the Arizona Daily Star, for-profit nursing homes have less staffing, cut costs and are typically lower quality than their non-profit counterparts. One study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that for-profit nursing homes are 46.5 times more likely to have deficiencies than non-profit homes. Perhaps, most troubling, is that to cut costs on legal expenses, these nursing homes ask residents and their families to sign agreements which shelter the nursing homes from lawsuits. These agreements are part of the paperwork that residents and their families must fill out at the time they are entering the nursing home facility. Entering a nursing home is often an emotional and stressful time for families and yet the nursing homes are asking these families to sign away their right to sue the facility should the nursing home mistreat their loved one. The arbitration agreements provide for binding “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) which takes disputes into a private rather than the public legal system, forces residents and their families to give up their right to a jury trial decided by their peers, and gives nursing homes alone the right to pick the person who will judge the substandard care given to its residents. Furthermore, these agreements prevent any of the nursing home’s violations, no matter how egregious, from becoming public information. When families unknowingly sign away their right to sue the facility, they likely have no concept of the degree of harm a nursing home can cause their loved ones due to nursing home abuse or neglect. Federal legislation has been proposed to invalidate these unjust and detrimental arbitration clauses. The Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys at Levin and Perconti support the proposed federal legislation and are working hard to make sure that substandard care at Illinois nursing homes will not be tolerated.