More and more nursing home corporations are using forced arbitration clauses as a way to avoid accountability for their negligence. Inserted in the fine print of lengthy admission documents, many families are unaware they have signed away their rights until something tragic happens.
Families who face the stress and anxiety of placing a loved one in a nursing home are often in a frazzled state when signing these contracts and sometimes have no other options for care. Nursing homes frequently use tactics like allowing family members with no power of attorney to sign, asking patients with dementia or other debilitating conditions, forcing elderly spouses to sign and even gathering together a group of seniors without family members present in order to force them to sign.
Opposition to Arbitration Outweighs Support
Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of forced arbitration when told the real facts about what they are signing. By more than eight to one (81 percent) Americans think it’s unfair that the arbitrator is selected by the company, the consumer gives up the right to take the case to court, and arbitration applies even if you are seriously injured.
Below is a case where a nursing corporation used mandatory binding arbitration in order to avoid accountability:
While under the care of a nursing home, Massachusetts resident John Donahue suffered an eye injury so severe that it required removal of his eye. The infection caused by his injury eventually led to his death. When his daughter Marlene Owens went to file a claim against the nursing home corporation she was told that her father signed a binding arbitration clause without any family members present. The nursing home insists that the case be taken to private arbitration.
Nursing Homes Profit While Taxpayers Foot the Bill for Neglect
Nursing homes receive more than $75 billion from government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. When residents in these programs are injured as a result of poor care and unable to fully recover or recover at all because of mandatory arbitration, Medicare and Medicaid end up covering the additional costs of the resulting medical treatments. From 2004 through 2006, for example, preventable patient safety errors and deaths cost the Medicare program $8.8 billion. Out of 41 million Medicare patient records reviewed, 238,337 reflected “potentially preventable deaths.”