A new American Association of Justice report entitled “Standing Up for Seniors” underscores that nursing home lawsuits help improve nursing home care for the 1.5 million Americans who are in nursing homes.
No one is surprised that a significant number of our nursing homes are disaster areas, the antithesis of the environment in which people should spend their final years. Nursing homes have become big business in this country and less care equals more profits. The general public gets this and we are taking steps to try to improve the nursing home problem in this country. There are many laws and regulations aimed at protecting nursing home residents.
But the problem with nursing homes and laws that restrict them is analogous to the arms race between police and drivers with radar and radar detectors. Maryland comes up with a new nursing home law to restrain and monitor nursing homes, and the nursing homes come up with some sort of way to technically comply outside of the spirit of the law. (This is not just a shot at nursing homes but at capitalism in general. Capitalism is the best economic system in the history of the world but it is not perfect and it has byproducts.)
Not only does the effectiveness of nursing home legislation wax and wane, but the penalties are usually not significant and the government is often not motivated to do the heavy lifting required to enforce the laws. This is why Maryland nursing home and neglect victims and their families turn to nursing home lawyers. The “penalties” of a lawsuit get the attention of nursing homes more than government oversight. AAJ provides a telling quote from geriatrician and bioethicist Steven Miles of the University of Minnesota: “Government sanctions cost a couple of thousand bucks. A lawsuit can cost $500,000 to a million; it gets much more attention.”
It goes against the grain for many to agree that nursing home lawyers and lawsuits are a part of the solution to the nursing home care crisis we have in this country. We would all prefer to live in a world where nursing homes did the right thing because it was the right thing. Moreover, the threat of nursing home lawsuits is not a panacea, and it does not protect nursing home residents from acts of neglect and abuse that don’t carry with them the risk of serious injury or death. Nursing home lawyers are not bringing claims for generalized mistreatment and substandard care. But when it comes to making sure nursing homes provide care that avoids serious injuries and fatalities, nursing home lawyers have the ability to cut through the bureaucracy that ties down our regulatory and legislative schemes to protect patients and motivate the workforce to keep nursing homes from mistreating their residents.
If you think you have been a victim of nursing home medical malpractice in Maryland, call 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.