For many people, the decision to enter (or to place a loved one in) a nursing home is a difficult and stressful one. The time when the patient first goes into the facility is one filled with many changes and many necessary things to consider. One thing that may be easy to overlook is the paperwork that must be signed as part of the admissions process. Don’t make the mistake of just “glossing over” this step and automatically signing everything put in front of you without legal counsel. Some of these documents may be optional, and signing them may not be in your family’s best interests in the event that you or your loved one is harmed as a result of negligence by the facility staff. Instead, make sure you are armed with knowledge before you sign by relying on the representation of a knowledgeable Massachusetts nursing home negligence attorney.
Knowing before you sign is important because, once you sign, you may not be able to “take it back,” and that signature could be a significant negative for your family. For example, take the federal case involving Emma, an elderly woman who entered a Chestnut Hill nursing home in early February 2013. Later that month, Emma’s daughter Jackalyn signed several documents related to the nursing home admissions process. Over the course of the month, the daughter signed in excess of a dozen documents, ranging from DNR to an authorization for assignment of insurance benefits. Among the numerous other documents Jackalyn signed, one was something called an “Arbitration Agreement,” which the daughter signed but didn’t date.
Early the following December, Emma died. Jackalyn subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home. According to the daughter’s complaint, Emma died due to an extreme sepsis infection brought on by the pressure sores (or bedsores) on the woman’s body.