Ruling Now Prevents Arbitration Clauses In Nursing Home Contracts

Lever & Ecker, PLLC October 6, 2016 General

In an effort to protect the elderly who are patients in nursing homes throughout the country, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) ruled that nursing homes can no longer include arbitration clauses in their contracts if they receive funding from Medicare or Medicaid.

What Is An Arbitration Clause?

elderly in assisted living

When someone signs a contract that includes an arbitration clause, it means that if there is a dispute, instead of being able to take the nursing home to court, the resident must instead go through arbitration.

Arbitration is when a neutral third-party hears the evidence that would have been presented in court and then makes a decision based on that evidence. Not all arbitration is mandatory – in fact, some parties agree to the process. The decision made by the arbitrator can either be:

  1. Binding: All participants must abide by the decision and the court will enforce the ruling. The majority of all decisions are binding.
  2. Non-binding: Either party is able to reject the decision and can decide to continue on to court.

Nursing homes began to include clauses forcing their residents into arbitration in an effort to save themselves time and money. However, it doesn’t always give the resident the justice they need and there is a serious disadvantage – a binding arbitration ruling can’t be appealed.

Why Would A Nursing Home Resident Sue?

Unfortunately, the very care facilities that are supposed to provide medical assistance and support the elderly, the citizens who need it most, fail on a regular basis. Lawsuits and complaints regarding the treatment of patients in nursing homes frequently report that one or more of the following has occurred:

Physical Abuse

It’s disturbing how frequently patients report that a nurse or another employee has physically abused them. This often includes:

  • Slapping
  • Punching
  • Kicking
  • The use of excessive restraint
  • Withholding medication or forcing the resident to take too much medication.

Sexual Abuse

While many patients don’t like to admit what happened to them or their friends, sexual abuse in nursing homes happens often. Typically this abuse comes to light after the patient is diagnosed with an STD or if a family member or doctor notices injury to the genitals or breasts.

Emotional Abuse

While emotional abuse might not seem like a huge deal, it can cause mental, emotional, and physical harm. Depression and anxiety from constant verbal abuse is not uncommon and can result in hypertension, panic attacks, GI issues, and more.

Financial Exploitation

It is not uncommon for the elderly to ask for assistance when it comes to their finances, which makes them the perfect target for exploitation. Common forms include:

  • Theft from a bank account.
  • Misuse of a credit card.
  • Healthcare fraud.


Sometimes the worst thing that can happen to a nursing home resident is for their caregivers to simply not give them care. Failing to give medications, change bedsheets or adult diapers, failing to perform physical therapy, or even just completely ignoring a resident can have painful or fatal consequences.

I Suspect My Loved One Is Suffering

There are common signs of abuse or neglect in nursing home that anyone can watch out for:

  • Broken bones
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Bed sores
  • Mood swings
  • Dehydration
  • An unwillingness to be alone with a specific care giver
  • A refusal to eat
  • Frequent infections
  • Weight loss
  • Deteriorating hygiene

If your loved one is showing any possible signs of abuse or has been brave enough to tell you about it, you should contact an attorney as quickly as possible. This is very important, because if the caregivers in a nursing home even suspect that they may be in trouble, a common reaction is to try and destroy any evidence – including medical records.

How Can A Lawsuit Help?

Not only can a lawsuit help the victims of these heinous crimes feel a sense of justice and help to prevent abuse against others, but it can also provide them with compensation. A settlement offer or a verdict can mean that the plaintiff no longer has to worry about how they will pay for medical bills and can compensate them for their physical and emotional pain and suffering.

Neglect & Abuse In Nursing Homes

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