Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nursing Home Arbitration Preys on Vulnerable Seniors

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.

The bipartisan Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act (S. 512 / H.R. 1237), sponsored by Senators Mel Martinez (R-FL) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) in the House, bans pre-dispute forced arbitration clauses from nursing home contracts. The House Judiciary committee passed the legislation in July and the Senate is expected to consider the legislation in committee before Congress goes out of session.

Legislation is needed to counter draconian Court decisions such as that in Massachusetts which recently upheld these agreements. See Decision. A major problem with Arbitration is that there is often very limited or no discovery allowed before a hearing.

The facts

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Virginia Nursing Home Sexual Battery Charged

BRISTOL, Va. – The first time Patricia Davenport complained about a nursing aide’s mistreatment of a patient, she was told she saw it wrong.The second time Davenport complained – and no action was taken – she quit the nursing job she’d had for only six months at the National HealthCare nursing home on North Street.....

James W. Wright, 35, was indicted Tuesday on four counts of aggravated sexual battery. Each count stems from the investigation into the treatment of a different patient from 2000 to 2007, including the lady Davenport said she saw in the wheelchair and another patient who is blind, authorities said.

Davenport said the first time she stumbled upon the abuse of patients was in August 2007. It was the sound of a rocking wheelchair that grabbed her attention, she said, as she strode down a hallway. She peeked into a patient’s room and saw a woman shaking in her wheelchair. The woman’s shirt and bra had been shoved high on her chest. A nurse’s aide was standing behind the wheelchair, and he was reaching around to fondle the patient’s breasts.“She looked like she was just getting ready to break down,” Davenport said. “She just looked at you like ... she was so confused and hurt.”

Davenport said she quit soon after that incident.“You look at those people every day in the face knowing they’re getting abuse and you can’t do anything because nobody’s got your back,” Davenport said. “I don’t want to go back to nursing.”

full article