The decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is never easy -- it doesn't matter if it's for short-term rehabilitation or long-term care. The process can be made even more stressful when you are bombarded with a pile of paperwork that must be signed before the facility will admit the patient. It is becoming more common for nursing homes to include documents that prohibit you from filing a lawsuit in the event that your loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect or abuse. Instead, you must settle the matter through arbitration.
A wrongful death claim against an Alabama nursing home was recently settled through arbitration because of such a document. The man was admitted to the facility to receive rehabilitation for injuries from a fall. He was expected to make a full recovery and be released after one month of treatment. During his stay, however, he did not receive adequate care. He developed a bed sore the size of a softball because wound care nurses did not reposition him as required, even though his medical chart showed otherwise. He later died from an infection in the wound. When time cards were compared to the chart, it was discovered that a nurse claimed to provide wound care on days when she wasn't working at the facility. The family was awarded $375,000 for the wrongful death of the man.
Before signing any admitting documents for a nursing home, it is a good idea to read them carefully. Arbitration agreements are sometimes unknowingly included in another ancillary document that patients sign. Regardless of whether an arbitration agreement is in place or not, you still have legal rights if your loved one is injured, abused or neglected by nursing home employees and may want to consult with an attorney.
Source: Enterprise Ledger, “Enterprise law firm wins wrongful-death case,” July 16, 2013