Nursing home advocates and family members in favor of lawsuit and opposed to forced arbitration

The nursing home community is a vulnerable population. It's a society of seniors who have lost their independence, and must now depend on someone in a nursing home."Our loved ones are there and we need to hold them accountable," said Paris Hurley.

JACKSONVILLE, Fl -- The nursing home community is a vulnerable population. It's a society of seniors who have lost their independence, and must now depend on someone in a nursing home.

"Our loved ones are there and we need to hold them accountable," said Paris Hurley.

Hold them accountable for the wrong situations patients and family members may encounter.

The Nursing Home Abuse Center states more than 44 percent of nursing home residents have reported abuse. 

Hurley knows first hand; she is still mourning the loss of her grandmother.
 
"It has been hard," said Hurley, "it has been a long road."

Last December, Annie Hurley, a nursing home resident, died.

She had a very large sore, stage 4, that led to an infection that leads to sepsis.

The Hurley family is now suing the nursing home for neglect.

Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is proposing a rule change that would make family members of a loved one go to arbitration instead of the courts.

"Family members should have the right to sue nursing homes," said Steve Watrel.

Arbitration clauses are standard in nursing home contracts, but Attorney Steve Watrel said they're hardly ever explained.

"I'd say 99% of the times it is never explained and the agreement is never shown to the family," he said.

Watrel specializes in nursing home abuse and neglect cases; he said his patients and their family members should treat the arbitration clause as an option.

"I tell everybody scratch out the arbitration agreement," he said. "Tell them you object to it."

Watrel said his father was a victim of nursing home abuse and neglect.

He described the nursing home industry as being in a poor state.

"It is pretty frightening we have cases now that would shock your conscience," he said.

He said forcing arbitration benefits the industry and would deny family members right to sue.

"It should not be forced on the outset on somebody," he said.

Hurley is going through the process with her lawsuit and is stunned by the amount of insurance they are required to carry,

The American Health Care Association which represents more than 13,000 nursing homes supports arbitration.

 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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