When a family member moves into an assisted care facility, their new home is evaluated from many angles. What is the living space like? What are the staff qualifications? Have there been concerns raised in the past? Most likely, you aren’t considering the potential need for litigation.

Yet among the many pages of admissions paperwork, nursing home residents and their families are being asked to sign a forced arbitration agreement before being admitted. This agreement bars a court hearing in the case of disputes, including those that address abuse, injury, or wrongful death while at the facility.


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Falls of patients in nursing homes are often preventable, yet they are still the leading cause of injuries in seniors who are residents there. Research shows elderly adults are four times more likely to die of fall related injuries if they live in a nursing home as compared to those who live at home. Part of that is due to the home’s improper follow up investigation and care, and part is due to its failure to implement proper fall prevention.

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Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. dies from sepsis. Despite its prevalence, many people are unfamiliar with this life-threatening medical issue. To raise awareness about what sepsis is, how to recognize its symptoms, and the importance of timely treatment, September has been named Sepsis Awareness Month.

Sepsis is the body’s response to an infection, and occurs when the immune system sends infection-fighting chemicals to the entire body rather than just to the infection. The damage from these chemicals causes impaired blood flow, organ damage, and death. Of the 2 million people who develop sepsis in the U.S. each year, one-quarter of them will not survive. For those that do survive, many develop post-sepsis syndrome (PSS), which can cause long-term physical and psychological effects.


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As a result of the unstable economy, many adults have been forced to work longer hours or multiple jobs, resulting in less time to care for their elderly parents at home. This is no exception for America’s growing Latino population, who often hold caring for elderly family members in high regard as a cultural tradition.

Government statistics show that Hispanics have a life expectancy of 82 years, longer than non-Hispanic white Americans (78.7 years) and non-Hispanic black Americans (75.1 years). Hispanic women have a life expectancy of 84.3 years. However, according to a poll conducted by Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, fewer than two out of every 10 Hispanics age 40 and older say they are extremely confident that nursing homes and assisted living facilities can meet their needs.


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Placing someone in a long-term care facility is a very difficult decision to make. Many times, this decision is not due to physical limitations, but mental ones. Older folks who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s may be physically mobile, but due to cognitive issues, they require 24-hour supervision. They may forget where they are, get

Arbitration is a process of resolving complaints without the use of the court system. A person basically signs a document waiving their right to a jury trial, and gets nothing in return. The rules for arbitration are different, the process is confidential, and a mediator decides the case as opposed to a jury. The family pays costs to prosecute a claim they would not have to typically pay in the court system (for example, a plaintiff does not have to pay a judge but does have to pay the arbitrator, which can be expensive). Many nursing home corporations and companies want this forum because it is confidential and there is no jury.
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I read an article online recently reporting of a nursing home owner and operator stealing from his residents. On June 30, 2009 Michael D. Berg, 72, the owner of an Ocean Township nursing home, plead guilty to stealing approximately $39,000 from one of his home’s residents. Berg plead guilty to one count of third-degree theft by deception.
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Because of the length of time it takes to determine the amount and applicability of both Medicaid and Medicare liens, inquiries to these entities should be made as soon as a case is opened.
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