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Rules change on filing lawsuits for nursing home abuse

North Carolina residents who have a loved one in a nursing home may also be able to file a lawsuit against the facility they believe has been neglecting or abusing the patient. A ruling from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is now in place that will allow this, although it is expected that it will be challenged. In the past, nursing home contracts contained an arbitration clause that made it impossible for families to sue. This meant that even if an arbitrator ruled against the nursing home, it never became public knowledge.

There are a number of things a family can do when choosing a nursing home that may reduce the likelihood of picking a facility where abuse or neglect occurs. They should not feel rushed into making a choice. They should visit not just the facility but the actual room where their loved one will be staying. They can also research the facility on the Medicare website where there is a tool for comparing nursing homes and seeing star rankings from one to five.

People may also want to look for signs that their loved ones are being abused. A sudden change in behavior or temperament could indicate this. People with dementia might report abuse, and these reports should be taken seriously. Abuse or neglect may include shouting at or ignoring the patient.

People who suspect their loved one is facing nursing home abuse or neglect might want to speak to an attorney. The abuse should be documented even if it is just noting reports from the patient and the time when they occurred. It may be possible to file a lawsuit against the facility, and in addition to compensation for the patient's suffering, the facility's neglect and abuse might be made public.

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Daniel Pleasant Holoman LLP

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