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Lack of Communication is #1 Lawsuit in Senior Living Communities

Springfield, MO— During the years I was a licensed long-term care administrator, I was required to attend several state and national conferences for my continued education and licensure. One of the subjects that was consistently presented to administrators, directors of nursing, and administration staff by attorneys was the lack of communication in nursing homes. The number one reason why most families of residents sue nursing homes was because there was a consistent trend of lack of communication from the nursing home staff to the family/resident. The lawsuits usually stemmed from residents that had a fall with injury, abuse/neglect/retaliation, sudden onset of illness and/or death, and/or issues that arise with the resident that required the nursing home to issue a 30-day discharge letter.
The last thing a nursing home needs is a lawsuit, especially if the issue could have been dealt with and hopefully resolved by better communication and written documentation by the nursing home. There is a saying in the industry that if it was not documented then it never happened. A nursing home can say they did everything in their power to provide preventative care as well as follow-up to the resident and family, but if it’s not documented, and documented well, the nursing home has no evidence to support their claim.
Here is a brief list of resident rights pertaining to communication (a list called Resident Rights should be given to the resident):
1. A resident and/or responsible party (must have Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare) may request a copy of their medical record in part or in its entirety. They have the right to have access to and review their medical record. Keep in mind they may be charged for a copying fee.
2. Anytime a resident/responsible party communicates with administration regarding concerns about care and/or finances, I recommend emailing administration versus only speaking in person, so they will have a paper trail if anything arises.
3. The nursing homes have a grievance (concerns) process in place, and they must provide follow-up to you after they have completed their in-house investigation over the concern. If you feel the grievance has not been resolved, I recommend speaking to the administrator. If you continue to have issues with the grievance after speaking to the administrator, then I recommend calling the community’s corporate office before calling your state’s department on aging.

by Jacqueline Jadidian,
UniteNews Contributing Writer

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