Over the last few years, more and more nursing homes have been requiring patients to sign binding arbitration clauses before admitting patients to the home, thereby preventing patients from later filing a medical malpractice claim in court against the nursing home, even in the case of egregious malpractice. Because arbitration is stacked against the patient, and the patients have no bargaining power to avoid the arbitration clauses, these clauses are unfair.
Finally, Congress is taking notice. Today, U.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) introduced legislation to protect dispute resolution options for residents of nursing homes. The measure is in direct response to the increasing practice of nursing home facilities requiring patients to agree to arbitration as the sole vehicle for dispute resolution prior to admittance to a facility. Joining Senator Martinez in this effort as lead-cosponsor is Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI).