Nursing Home Admission Agreements are Often Illegal, New Study Finds

Admission agreements at nursing homes often violate state and federal laws and mislead consumers about the level of care they should receive, says a study by Eric Carlson of the National Senior Citizens Law Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy group for seniors and elder-care lawyers.  Carlson reviewed 175 admission agreements and found many admission agreements and business contracts contained void and unenforceable provisions that make it too easy for nursing homes to discharge patients, stick relatives with bills they legally didn’t owe, lower families' expectations of the care to be received, require patients and their families to assume the risks of injury, and prevent patients and their families from going to court when injuries or death occur.  Read the entire study.

I spoke with Eric Carlson last year in Richmond, Virginia at a seminar for lawyers, health care professionals, social workers, and state nursing home inspectors.  I was asked to speak on the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers (bed sores, pressure sores, decubitus ulcers) and falls and provide advice to lawyers who handle these types of cases.  Eric spoke on the topic of "Illegal Provisions in Nursing Home Agreements," as well as about negotiated risk agreements in assisted living facilities.  Eric is a national authority on the many ways in which "agreements" and "contracts" in nursing home documents violate state and federal laws and regulations. 

Eric's advice is absolutely correct -- think twice before signing!  My advice? Don't just think twice.  If you read something in a nursing home or assisted living document that doesn't pass the "smell test", don't sign it until you've first talked to your lawyer.  And above all else -- BEWARE!________________________________________________________________
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.