BY: Kenneth T. Watkins | IN: Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury
Federal authorities recently approved the first major overhaul in 25 years of the regulations that protect more than 1.5 million residents of long-term care facilities. While these reforms do address some important health and safety issues for some of our most vulnerable citizens, they fall short of what some advocates for the elderly had hoped for.
The regulations apply to any long-term care facility that receives Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, which is the vast majority of nursing homes. Enforcement will begin in stages. Some regulations already took effect last fall, more will phase in this year, and then the rest in 2019.
According to the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, the most important new regulations include:
But advocates say the new regulations don’t go far enough to address the chronic problem of inadequate staffing levels at nursing homes. Instead of requiring a specific minimum staffing level and a registered nurse on duty around the clock, the regulations only specify that a nursing home have “sufficient” staffing levels and a nurse on duty for eight hours a day.
The nursing home industry has already managed to block one important new regulation that would have barred nursing homes from requiring residents to resolve any disputes with their nursing home through arbitration – rather than suing in court. Advocates say such arbitration clauses keep the public in the dark about nursing home abuse and neglect. But last fall, nursing home industry representatives convinced a federal judge to block enforcement of that new regulation, and its fate is now very much in doubt.
Nursing home residents and their loved ones still need to be vigilant about knowing and asserting their rights. Even with the new rules in place, it’s unclear how far federal authorities will go in enforcing them. The Medical Malpractice lawyers at Sommers Schwartz can help too. If you or a loved one has been the victim of any kind of mistreatment at a nursing home, give us a call.
View all posts byKenneth T. Watkins
Kenneth T. Watkins is an accomplished trial attorney and Senior Shareholder with Sommers Schwartz. Over the course of his career, he has obtained numerous multimillion-dollar settlements. His achievements include one of the largest seven-digit medical malpractice cases in Macomb County in 2008, and his election to membership in the exclusive Million Dollar Verdict Club.