After 21 year battle, nursing home residents awarded $11 million

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One of the most difficult decisions that Tennessee families may have to make is whether, and when, they need to consider placing an older loved one in a nursing home. Families worry about their health and happiness, and many ultimately decide that the environment and medical care that is promised at many nursing homes may be the best solution for an elderly or sick family member.

These people are among the most vulnerable patients and we want to be assured that they will be cared for in a dignified and responsible manner. Too often, however, nursing homes take advantage of these people thinking they can get away with it and still pull in a profit. This kind of nursing home abuse can have devastating consequences on patients and their families.

When most people think of the kind of abuse that can take place in a nursing home, they often think of the physical abuse, the neglect and the emotional damage that is often reported. While extremely negligent and harmful, these actions are not the only types of abuse that patients may be subjected to.

Residents in nursing homes may be older with decreased mental capabilities and fading memory and cognitive skills. In some state-run homes, official use this to their advantage and double bill their patients in order to make a profit. One such facility recently agreed to a $11 million settlement after battling it out in court for over 20 years. The facility was accused of cheating 16,000 patients out of insurance co-payments and deductibles when they started charging residents twice for the same service.

The settlement was reached about six years ago, but it has taken the past five years to track down the family members of the victims as most of them have since passed away.

In an industry that should be solely focused on taking care of some of the most important and vulnerable members of our community, too many of these nursing homes engage in unlawful practices. Whether they physically hurt or neglect patients or take advantage of them financially, it is imperative that these malicious parties be held accountable.

Source: The Buffalo News, “Nursing home residents get $11 million in 21-year legal battle,” Phil Fairbanks, Nov. 1, 2012