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Fighting Against Unfair Nursing Home Arbitration Clauses

By January 30, 2017

Joel SmithToday’s Star Tribune has a front-page article focusing on the dangers of forced arbitration clauses contained in nursing home and assisted living admission agreements.  The article features a Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm case and Joel Smith (left).

Investigative reporter Chris Serres warns: “Over mounting objections from consumer groups and regulators, arbitration agreements … are proliferating in the senior care industry. Hundreds of Minnesota nursing homes and assisted-living centers now request that elderly people sign arbitration clauses on admission. The clauses require them to forfeit their right to a court hearing and, instead, lock elderly residents into a more secretive process for resolving claims. Even in cases of extreme neglect and death, nursing homes use the clauses to block residents and their families from pursuing lawsuits.”

The Star Tribune article features a Kosieradzki Smith client, Angela, whose mother, Sharon, died at a Golden LivingCenter nursing home in Winthrop, Minnesota.  Sharon was 71 year old.  As the article reports:

  • Sharon “requested that an on-duty nurse at the Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Winthrop call 911 because she was short of breath and unable to breathe.”
  • “Instead, the nurse gave [Sharon] a nebulizer and sent her to bed without checking her vitals or periodically monitoring her, police records show. A few hours later, [Sharon] died before an ambulance could arrive, the police found. [Sharon]’s death was all the more surprising because she was only scheduled to be at the Winthrop nursing home for 30 days for rehabilitation from toe surgery, and was scheduled to return home.”
  • “They kept telling me that she ‘died peacefully,’ ” Angela said. “But I needed answers and wasn’t getting any.”

The Winthrop Police Department investigated the circumstances of Sharon’s death at the Golden LivingCenter nursing home in Winthrop, Minnesota.  The findings of this investigation show that Angela’s mother did not “died peacefully”; in fact, Sharon’s roommate informed the policed officer that Sharon had “shouted ‘Help’ several times. The police report contains the following findings:

  • “While being admitted into the facility, [Sharon] stated she had a pacemaker and provided health records which showed [she] had heart problems in the past. The only information of [Sharon’s records] entered into the good Samaritan system was her insurance information.”
  • “The nurse in charge of entering patient information, … did not enter information regarding [Sharon]’s past heart problems or enter an alert for [Sharon]’s pacemaker.  This prevented other nurses from properly treating [Sharon]’s health needs.”
  • “At approximately [7:00 pm], [Sharon] requested an on duty nurse … to call 911 because she was short of breath and could not breathe.  [The nurse] did not check [Sharon]’s vital signs and stated ‘I’m not calling the ambulance as I can treat you here the same as they would treat you there.’”
  • “[The nurse] then gave [Sharon] a nebulizer treatment and sent [her] to bed without periodically monitoring her.”
  • “At approximately [10:00 pm], [the nurse] returned to [Sharon]’s room to give [Sharon] her medication.  Upon entering the room [the nurse] found [Sharon] in critical condition and proceeded to call 911. [Sharon] died before the ambulance arrived on the scene.”
  • One employee of the Golden LivingCenter nursing home informed the investigating police officer that “staff is trained that they do not send patients to the hospital unless absolutely necessary because of the reduced rate that the facility will receive.”

As the Star Tribune article reports, Angela “wants the opportunity to expose any maltreatment by the facility in a public forum — as opposed to arbitrating the case before a private arbitrator in a closed setting. Arbitration would sweep my mother’s death under the rug, so no one would ever find out about it,” [Angela] said. “I’m not going to let that happen.”

The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care.  We are committed to uncovering the truth.  Nursing homes want binding arbitration agreements because they help nursing home’s hide the truth. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home, take action today and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

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