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Nursing home residents who experience physical abuse can sue

Thousands of Americans, including those in West Virginia, are neglected, beaten or underfed in nursing homes each year. Up until now, residents who underwent physical abuse were unable to sue for redress in these situations, and neither could their families. This is because they signed paperwork featuring a clause that required them to do confidential, private arbitration in the event of a dispute. However, a new federal rule has banned binding arbitration clauses at long-term-care facilities that accept Medicaid or Medicare.

This new rule has been issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The purpose is to prevent nursing homes from taking advantage of the elderly and their families. Nursing home agreements for admission are usually over 30 pages in length, so it was previously easy for people to overlook the clause forcing residents and their families into arbitration.

The new rule is a part of a bigger revamping of consumer protections that will take effect on Nov. 28. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is driving this overhaul of consumer protections. With the new rule, the goal is for care and transparency at nursing homes to improve, as more than a million people were living in these types of facilities in 2014.

One of the biggest reasons for the physical abuse of elderly nursing home residents is a lack of sufficient staffing. Other common problems include poor staff training and a high turnover rate. Nursing home residents in West Virginia who have experienced abuse have the right to take legal action to hold their nursing facilities accountable through the civil court system.

Source:, "Hopes for Improved Care in Nursing Homes as New Rule Allows Lawsuits", Charlotte Cuthbertson, Oct. 4, 2016

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