Patient’s rights to sue nursing homes in court preserved by a new rule

Patient’s rights to sue nursing homes in court preserved by a new rule

The right of patients and their families to sue nursing homes and other long-term care facilities has been preserved by a new rule by the federal government, released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Wednesday.

The so-called pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses in the contracts of nursing homes stopped the patients and families to undergo the court system by making them settle the dispute over care in arbitration.

All the facilities that receive money from Medicare or Medicaid have to follow the rule, which applies to almost all of them, and will go into effect in November.

Andy Slavitt, the acting administrator for the agency, said, “Today's rules are a major step forward to improve the care and safety of the nearly 1.5 million residents in the more than 15,000 long-term care facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs”.

According to Slavitt, the agency had reviewed almost 10,000 comments from the public that it received for the change that was proposed originally in July 2015.

The rule would be helpful for a lot of cases like that of Dean Cole, reported in 2015, where Cole suffered from severe dehydration and coma two weeks after being admitted in a Minnesota nursing home. Though Cole passed away a while later but his wife, Virginia, had signed a binding agreement requiring arbitration in case of a dispute, preventing her from suing the facility.

The rule also introduced new regulations in regard to the personnel requirements, food, and medical treatment for such long-term care facilities. It requires the nursing homes to provide its residents with “nourishing, palatable” food in addition to a care plan for the patients within 48 hours of their admission.

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