The quality of nursing home care is a big concern for all families and it is something that Medi-Cal planning lawyers across the country advise their clients about. These concerns are certainly legitimate, considering a recent New York Times report that nearly 40% of nursing homes have been cited for serious violations, including patient care issues, since 2013. According to that report, citations often include patient neglect and mistreatment and failing to protect patients from avoidable accidents and injuries. There have been some changes in the law that affect the rights of nursing home patients. Here is what you need to know.
Fines for nursing home violations have been reduced
Since the new administration took office in 2018, government regulation of various industries has been scaled back drastically. Nursing homes are among those industries where regulations have been reduced. Specifically, the monetary fines for patient care violations have been reduced drastically. As a consultant for the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform explains, the penalty reductions could not have come at a worse time, when the penalties for egregious violations were just beginning to get the attention of the nursing home industry. Before the penalty reductions, the fines for violations had finally become more than merely “the cost of doing business.”
How drastic is the reduction of fines for nursing home violations? Consider the example of a nursing home in Illinois that was closed in September of 2016 after a patient died. An investigation uncovered that the nursing home had failed to properly treat and monitor a wound from a pain-medication pump that had been implanted. Because the facility failed to monitor the patient, the pump gradually slipped through a ruptured suture and protruded from her abdomen. This was allowed to occur over an eight-day period. The violation resulted in a fine of more than $282,000. However, under the new guidelines, a fine for this type of violation would be limited to $21,000.
Access to the court system has been severely limited
Another drastic change in nursing home patients’ rights has been the rescinding of the ban on arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts. This means that nursing home patients and their families no longer have a right to have their grievances heard in a court of law. Under the new regulations, nursing homes can again require patients to agree to mandatory arbitration in order to receive care at their facilities.
This means that patients and their families are forced to agree to have their personal injury claims heard by a private arbitrator under rules that are much more restrictive than the courts. Studies have also shown that arbitration awards are typically substantially lower than the awards from juries.
Nursing home abuse and neglect
Regrettably, nursing home abuse and neglect are realities. When the time comes to consider whether to place a loved one in a nursing home, finding one that is safe becomes a primary concern. Many clients ask are county nursing homes safe. The fact is, every nursing home is different. So, it is important to do your homework. When it comes to county-run nursing homes, each county health department manages the safety and quality of care provided at each nursing home.
Alternatives to nursing homes you can consider
Not all nursing homes are sources of abuse and neglect. There are many that provide excellent care. Nevertheless, many of us would rather live out our lives in our own homes, or the home of a loved one. Yet, staying at home is not always an option. When you consider the physical or mental health concerns, the need for round-the-clock care may be too great. There are some alternatives to consider, such as adult day care.
Let our Medi-Cal planning lawyers help
Long-term care facilities, like a nursing home or assisted living facility, are often very expensive. Unfortunately, private health insurance policies usually do not cover these services. Medicare coverage for long-term care is limited and most people do not have private long-term care insurance policies. As your Medi-Cal attorney can explain, California residents who require nursing home care typically look to Medi-Cal as the primary source of funding. In fact, Medi-Cal covers the nursing home expenses of nearly 65% of California residents in nursing homes. With the help of our Med-Cal planning lawyers, you can be better prepared for making the tough choices.
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