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Published On: Fri, Sep 1st, 2017

Nursing Home Patients May Soon be Unable to Sue after Abuse

An Obama-era regulation related to nursing home abuse may be repealed by the Trump administration. The rule would have made it easier for abused nursing home patients to sue for abuse or negligence.

The Trump administration wants to replace that rule and replace it with new legislation. Under the president’s proposed rules, abuse victims may never get their day in court.

photo paffairs_sanfrancisco

Many new nursing home patients are handed an agreement to sign when they first enter the facility. That agreement requires the patient to go to arbitration instead of filing a lawsuit if something goes wrong.

This practice was one that the Obama administration was trying abolish.

But lawyers argue that patients are often admitted into nursing homes after traumatic events, which makes it difficult or impossible to make a sound decision.

Patients often sign the agreement without questioning because they’re in a fragile state, often unable to comprehend what they’re agreeing to.

Patients who do sign such agreements will have their cases go to arbitration instead of court, which means no jury will ever hear their case.

Under Trump’s proposed revisions to the law, nursing homes would be required to have new residents sign an arbitration agreement. If patients refuse to sign the agreement, they can be denied admission.

The Obama administration’s proposed ban on arbitration agreements in nursing homes never went into effect. The American Health Care Association got a preliminary injunction that put the legislation on hold.

News of the proposed revision comes as two cases of nursing home abuse made headlines.

A caregiver in Waynesville, North Carolina was recently sentenced to 23 years in prison for raping nursing home patients. The case only made it to court after a nurse insisted on calling the police against the wishes of her boss.

The perpetrator, 58-year-old Luis Gomez, had allegedly raped women in the Brian Center nursing home facility for nearly a decade. He prayed mainly on women with Alzheimer’s because of their poor memory.

The Brian Center paid a six-figure fine for failure to protect residents from sexual abuse.

Complaints had been made against Gomez in the past at different facilities in the area, but investigators were unable to substantiate any of the claims.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says it was simply following state and federal laws.

Under Trump’s proposed revisions, the victim in this case may have never had her day in court.

The Brian Center is just one of many facilities across the country that are dealing with issues of abuse and neglect. In a recent year, one in three nursing home facilities in the country were cited for violating federal care standards.

Author: Jennifer Pardee

President Donald Trump speaking in Warsaw, Poland July 6, 2017 photo screenshot of video coverage

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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