There are more than 2 million cases of elder abuse every year, and those are only the cases that are reported. One out of every 10 people will experience some form of elder abuse. Because families often don’t have the time or resources to devote to the full-time care that seniors sometimes need, they depend on skilled nursing facilities to provide help where they can’t. When skilled nursing facilities care for elderly people, they and their friends and relatives are placing their trust in these businesses. When that trust is broken, it is usually the result of negligence or outright abuse of the elderly person.
Because the senior population has started to grow as more baby boomers continue to age, big corporations have taken to buying or starting skilled nursing facilities. Around 70% of all skilled nursing facilities are run by for-profit companies, and some of them are being purchased by Wall Street investment firms. Unsurprisingly, the new administration has taken note of another way it can assist hedge funds and banks.
In 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services enacted a policy that said nursing homes would no longer receive federal funding if they used forced arbitration clauses in their contracts. Forced arbitration clauses are contract terms preventing people from suing a facility, no matter what laws it breaks. Anyone harmed by illegal acts in these institutions can only bring cases to private arbitrators, who are generally beholden to the nursing homes or the corporations that own them.
Now, the current administration is proposing to lift the ban on forced arbitration clauses. Now, if a nursing home abuses a senior, the family can use the public court system to seek justice. If the ban is lifted, nursing homes benefit from the secretive system of arbitration, which isn’t open to the public, press, or regulators. It also allows gag orders in the form of confidentiality provisions, allowing them to hide their crimes easily.
If this is allowed to happen, what will result is an increase in abuse cases, a lower level of care, and a higher number of preventable injuries and deaths. From 1999 to 2001 almost a third of all nursing home facilities were cited for violations of federal standards that could cause harm, or did harm, the elderly residents of the facilities. While abuse of the elderly isn’t completely violent or physical, it does include insidious and immoral behavior, such as failing to administer care or coercing a patient to change a will, deed, or trust. However, there have been cases involving violent behavior, such as abusive language, injury, and even rape.
Nursing homes are supposed to care for some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Residents of such facilities are there to begin with because they’re unable to care for themselves completely. They are also at the mercy of the people who assist them. If skilled nursing facilities aren’t kept accountable for the actions of their staff members, the behavior will persist, injuring and potentially killing thousands of seniors and other fragile patients at those facilities. This change in policy is nothing more than another handout to corporations at the expense of U.S. citizens.
If your loved one was injured by a medical professional, don’t hesitate to call us. Our experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys can help. We have been helping people since 1978 and have built a reputation for dedicated and effective advocacy. Let us represent you and your loved one with integrity, commitment, and compassion. Contact us at 888.899.0652 or fill out our online form to schedule free case consultation today.