Finally, New Rules for Nursing Homes

Doctor with patientAs a recent Forbes article titled “The End of Secrecy in Nursing Home Wrongdoing” explains, until now consumers were required to sign arbitration agreements when admitted to a nursing home. Most folks don’t realize these agreements prohibited the family from bringing a lawsuit if anything went wrong in a nursing home. Instead, the family would be required to go to arbitration, where the outcomes weren’t known outside of those connected to the arbitration hearing. Consequently, if a nursing home neglected or harmed one of its residents, then nobody would know how the arbitrator decided such a case.

But these practices have finally changed, as well as some other important rules.

Although no one wants to live in a nursing home, after surgery, serious illness, or an accident—or because a loved one requires nursing care 24/7—nursing homes are a necessary part of our health care system. They should be safe, comfortable places.

The new rules require nursing homes to properly train and staff their facilities, as well as protect vulnerable people from dangerous other residents who might harm someone if not carefully supervised by skilled staff. The facilities are required to spend the money to retain enough workers and train them on how to properly do the job.

The Federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued the revised rules, which impact more than 15,000 long-term care homes that accept Medicare and Medicaid across the U.S. Sadly, the worst nursing homes won’t realistically comply with the new rules; they didn’t follow the old ones. But to receive payment from Medicare and Medicaid, all nursing homes must adhere to better standards or they’ll lose money.

Anyone with an aging parent or other loved one who must go to a nursing home is likely to be safer now than before these rules came into effect. Rules aren’t a guarantee of safety, but no one placing a loved one in a nursing home can be forced into signing an agreement to arbitrate an issue, instead of having their day in court.

Reference: Forbes (September 29, 2016) “The End of Secrecy in Nursing Home Wrongdoing”

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