New nursing home standards keep patients’ right to sue
Washington — The Obama administration is issuing new nursing home standards that reverse a longstanding industry practice and preserve the rights of patients to sue in cases of abuse or neglect.
Currently, many nursing homes require patients seeking admission to first agree to resolve disputes through binding arbitration, relinquishing the court system.
The industry argued that arbitration — done properly — can keep costs down for all patients by avoiding large jury awards. Consumer advocates and trial lawyers countered that requiring such agreements as a condition of admission coerced vulnerable patients and families into signing away their rights.
Nursing homes will still be able to offer arbitration as a voluntary option after a problem arises.
Effective Nov. 28, the requirement is part of the first major rewrite of nursing home rules in 25 years.