IN THE NEWS: ARBITRATION CLAUSES ALLOWED IN INDIANA NURSING HOME CONTRACTS
It’s only just begun, and debates about whether it’s a good thing or not are fast and furious. Effective September 2019, nursing homes are legally permitted to continue their practice of inserting pre-dispute arbitration clauses into their resident care contracts.
“Indiana,” the Nursing Home Abuse Guide tells us, “has the dubious distinction of being one of twelve states having the greatest number of repeated, severe violations of nursing home laws.”
At Ramey & Hailey Law, we know all about it. When medical professionals fail to adhere to the appropriate standard of care, that is actually a type of medical negligence. After all, family members trust caregivers in the nursing home to alleviate their loved ones’ suffering and to do everything they can to preserve their relatives’ quality of life. And when that level of dedicated effort is not being put forth, the situation can actually be categorized as medical malpractice, and family members can sue to recover damages if negligence or abuse is discovered.
But the purpose of arbitration clauses is to avoid lawsuits. True, arbitration is usually faster, simpler, more efficient, and more flexible for scheduling than litigation, and – more private.
Also, since patient care is a highly specialized and technical subject, the parties can select an arbitrator who has technical knowledge in the field of care and nursing home administration.
However, unlike a court ruling, a binding arbitration ruling can’t be appealed.
The most important message we, as attorneys, want to convey to nursing home residents and especially to patients’ friends and family members is this: “If you see something, say something.” If you’re hesitant to report abuse or neglect for fear that the problem will simply become worse, or because you’re simply not sure exactly what constitutes mistreatment, talk to us.
Here at Ramey & Hailey Law, we know that recovering damages in an elder abuse lawsuit – or in an arbitration – cannot undo harm that has been done. But what taking action can do is ease the financial burden on the family, and just possibly prevent others’ loved ones from suffering.