For many of us, there comes a time when we have no choice but to choose an assisted living facility or nursing home for our parents or other family members because they require the 24-7 healthcare and monitoring services that these homes supposedly offer.

However, given the incidence of neglect and abuse that has been recorded as taking place in many of these facilities, this choice is usually not easy, especially when we are forced to sign a contract that we barely understand before they can be admitted–and which appears to limit your loved one’s rights–should an incident of abuse or neglect occur.

Forced Arbitration

According to a recent New York Times investigation, hundreds of cases accusing nursing homes of abuse, neglect, and wrongful death ended up in (forced) arbitration between 2010 and 2014. A rule recently released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services seeks to ban the mandatory use of arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts for those facilities that accept Medicare and/or Medicaid (which is most-all of them). These clauses have prevented many residents and their families from seeking justice in court if/when negligence issues arise, instead forcing them into arbitration selected by the nursing home or assisted living facility.

Changes in Sight

Unfortunately, on November 7th, a federal judge blocked the implementation of the rule, upholding the facilities’ right to include mandatory arbitration provisions in resident contracts for now. Although the rule was set to go into effect on November 28th, under the judge’s order, it now cannot go into effect until the court case challenging it is finished. The judge’s decision isn’t a decision that the rule can never go into effect, but only that it can be temporarily placed on hold while the case is heard.

History of Neglect in Rhode Island

Earlier this year, the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals shut down the College Park Apartments in Providence after there were reports of suspected death of one resident, and abuse of several others. The most serious incident involved one woman dying after her broken leg went untreated and eventually became infected. This is an example of why there must be justice available to residents and their families when abuse or neglect occurs. Forced arbitration is not the same as having access to the legal system.

Elder Abuse Attorneys

There is a significant amount of homework that needs to be done before choosing an assisted living facility for you or your loved ones. Researching various ratings and scheduling a tour of the facility are important. Some of the signs that abuse or neglect is occurring can show up as residents losing weight, appearing suspiciously weak or afraid to speak up.

In addition, consulting an experienced nursing home abuse attorney on any contracts that need to be signed before a resident is admitted is always a good idea. Not all facilities require that any complaints be mitigated in forced arbitration.

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If you or your loved one may have been the victim of abuse or neglect at a nursing home, we can help. The nursing home/elder abuse attorneys at Dana and Dana have extensive experience helping families recover for damages in cases of nursing home abuse and/or neglect. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out how we can help.