Since federal law prohibits nursing homes from requiring families to agree to pre-dispute arbitration, nursing homes have looked to other alternatives to resolve disputes. One effective alternative is mediation, a private process in which a neutral third party helps those involved in a dispute reach an amicable decision through open communication and collaboration.
Mediation has been used for years in the nursing home setting to resolve disputes, such as:
- Liability cases – Mediation is often used in cases involving liability, negligence and medical malpractice. Mediation can evaluate what the standard of care was and if it was breached. It is also used in intentional tort cases when a nursing home employee assaults or otherwise harms a nursing home resident.
- Breach of contract – Nursing homes enter into contracts with residents, their families, vendors and employees. Mediation often helps the parties better evaluate their position and reach an amicable decision.
- Third party responsibility claims – In some situations, a third party may be to blame for a resident’s injury and the nursing home may be liable for this party’s actions. Mediation may be able to help the parties devise ways to better protect the resident.
- Consumer protection claims – In some states, nursing home legal issues may involve consumer protection statutes. These statutes may provide an additional basis for recovery and may include the payment for attorney’s fees.
- Employment disputes – Issues between employees and with employees may be resolved through mediation, which encourages better communication.
Because nursing home cases often involve heightened emotions and private issues, mediation is the ideal forum to resolve these disputes. A mediator with experience in these types of cases can ensure that all parties feel heard and respected so that they will be more likely to reach an amicable decision.