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Rule change could affect pursuing nursing home abuse cases

Placing a loved one in a Pennsylvania nursing home is generally done so they can receive the proper care based on illness, condition or age and to ensure that they have a quality of life they would not otherwise have were they to remain at home alone or in the care of a loved one. The last thing family members are expecting is for there to be mistreatment or nursing home abuse of senior citizens or those who are ill. Unfortunately, it does happen. One issue that is currently being discussed is a rule that might be eliminated by the Trump presidential administration. This rule will hinder the attempts on the part of families and people who were victimized in a nursing home from seeking compensation in a lawsuit.

The Obama administration created a rule that stopped nursing homes from requiring that any dispute between resident and facility be settled in arbitration and not litigation. Generally, facilities require the incoming resident and the family to sign this stipulation before admission. The rule is problematic because it stops people for suing even in cases in which there is egregious nursing home negligence, nursing home abuse and wrongful death. Since a vast number of residents are suffering from issues that make it urgent that they are admitted as soon as possible, family members are apt to miss the clause in a large stack of agreements they are signing.

The attempts to regulate against these agreements was done with the idea of protecting residents and family members from having a lack of recourse if there is abuse or other issues. However, the idea of eliminating the rule is bolstered by the perceived avoidance of the cost and time involved in a lawsuit. Members of the U.S. Senate have opposed this decision by the Trump administration, citing the inability to have a court or jury trial if there is a abuse or wrongful death.

People who believe that there is mistreatment, a lack of care or outright abuse at a nursing home in which a loved one is residing should be aware of the various laws that regulate how this issue can be pursued. While the federal regulations can be worrisome, that does not necessarily mean that nothing can be done. Getting more information about nursing home neglect can help with determining the next step.

Source: NYTimes.com, "Trump Moves to Impede Consumer Lawsuits Against Nursing Homes," Robert Pear, Aug. 18, 2017

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