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Potential federal rollback may threaten nursing home residents

Some families in Oklahoma could be affected by the potential federal rollback of protections for nursing home residents facing potential abuse, neglect or mistreatment. Currently, conditional pre-dispute arbitration agreements are prohibited in the nursing home sector. These agreements would require elderly adults or people with disabilities living in nursing homes and their families to waive their rights to pursue a lawsuit before a dispute arises.

This means that any kind of dispute that arises from nursing home care, including matters like neglect or abuse, could be pushed into an arbitration proceeding rather than the court system. In general, these kinds of agreements would be presented to families and residents during the admissions process. If the federal government follows through on rolling back the prohibition, nursing homes could refuse admission to a resident or family who refuses to concede to the arbitration agreement.

Arbitrators are typically hired and selected by the nursing home and the proceedings are confidential. This means that there may be no public record of even multiple complaints against a nursing home for neglect and abuse. Therefore, future families and the public may not have the information they need in order to make an informed decision.

Nursing home residents can be especially vulnerable to neglect, abuse and maltreatment. Injuries such as bedsores and dehydration can develop from neglect. For people with dementia or other disorders who may have difficulties with verbalizing their concerns or advocating for themselves, the risk is more pronounced.

In addition, nursing home residents could be at risk of medical malpractice, which includes improper medical procedures and the failure to diagnose serious diseases like cancer. A lawyer could help victims and their families pursue claims and seek compensation in cases of neglect, abuse or medical mistreatment.

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