Request Legal Help Now - Free


Federal Government Discourages Penalties for Nursing Home Abuse Despite Report Calling for More Oversight

. By

The U.S. Government Accountability Office recently issued a report to Congress finding that there should be greater reporting of “critical incidents” in nursing homes, while the federal government has been taking steps to insulate the industry from nursin

New York, NYSince 2017, the Trump administration has been rolling back Obama-era rules intended to protect patients from elder care neglect. Since 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), part of the Federal Department of Health and Human Services, has been making rules that prevent victims of nursing home injury from bringing civil lawsuits to recover damages for neglect and abuse. Then in 2017, CMS discouraged its regional offices from fining care centers for one-time violations and issued a memo discouraging directors of state agencies from issuing daily fines for certain violations.

Over the past five years, around 6,500 nursing homes (four out of every ten homes) have been cited for at least one major violation. Relaxing enforcement and making it harder for victims to bring lawsuits may benefit the nursing home industry, but these changes could also be putting our elder population at risk.

GAO Report on Nursing Home Abuse

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent watchdog agency that works for Congress, and investigates how the federal government spends American tax dollars. In February of 2018, GAO published a Report finding that older Americans and people with disabilities in assisted living facilities can be vulnerable to abuse, neglect, or exploitation. The GAO noted that most states could not inform them how many, or what type, of critical incidents had occurred in these facilities. Three states, the GAO observed, do not even monitor unexpected or unexplained deaths in nursing homes. As a result of these findings, the GAO recommended that CMS take action to improve reporting of critical incidents.

Recent Rules Allow for Binding Arbitration in Nursing Home Contracts

It is now standard practice for home care contracts to include arbitration clauses with class waivers. When a patient is admitted to a nursing home, they may be faced with a large volume of paperwork, and somewhere buried in the stack may be a clause where the patient is asked to waive their right to sue in a court of law, in favor of a pre-selected arbitrator, who is usually paid by the nursing home. If a nursing home injury should occur, the first thing a nursing home lawyer will have to consider is whether the family or patient signed an arbitration agreement upon being admitted.

These kinds of arbitration agreements had been prohibited in the sunset of the Obama administration. The Obama-era CMS promulgated a rule that prevented long-term care facilities from entering into these kinds of binding arbitration agreements. However, in June of 2017, CMS proposed
a new and very different rule, removing the prohibition on binding arbitration agreements, among other things. The rule has not yet been adopted, and it is unclear how things will play out when that happens. It is not clear whether homes will be able to turn away patients who refuse to waive their right to sue in court for nursing home personal injury.

93 Year Old Former Model Dies in Tragic Elder Care Neglect Situation: State Officials Knew of Conditions But Did Not Act

As the federal government rolls back regulations, tragic stories of nursing home abuse and neglect continue to make headlines. In a nursing home in Lafayette, Georgia, a former model died from a scabies infestation that officials knew about, but took no action to remedy. According to her autopsy report, 93-year-old Rebecca Zeni died from “septicemia due to crusted scabies.” Her family filed a lawsuit, alleging that State health officials had been put on notice in 2013 and 2015, just before Zeni’s death, that there was a scabies outbreak at the facility, but never inspected. A forensic pathologist who reviewed the autopsy report has stated that he would consider the case a homicide by neglect. Ms. Zeni suffered from dementia.

Despite the fact that arbitration agreements are common today, patients who have suffered abuse or neglect still have legal recourse—either through arbitration, or on appeal to the court system. Nursing home lawsuits can be filed by the resident, or on their behalf by a family member or loved one. If you have lost a family member and suspect nursing home abuse or neglect was the cause, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.


Elder Care Legal Help

If you or a loved one have suffered losses in this case, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to an elder care lawyer who may evaluate your Elder Care claim at no cost or obligation.


Posted by

my mom is in a nursing home what's wrong with Donald trump is he saying it is ok to abuse the elderly then he needs to be put in a nursing home and let him be abuse by the staff and other people then he will change his tone


Fields marked * are mandatory. Please read our comment guidelines before posting.


Note: Your name will be published with your comment.

*Email Address:

Your email will only be used if a response is needed.
*Your Comment:

Are you the defendant or a subject matter expert on this topic with an opposing viewpoint? We'd love to hear your comments here as well, or if you'd like to contact us for an interview please submit your details here.

Click to learn more about

Request Legal Help Now! - Free