Nursing Homes Attempt to Change Tennessee Law – Put Price Limit on TN Nursing Home Injury, Neglect & Abuse

Nashville Business Journal reports Tennessee nursing home officials are pressuring Tennessee Legislature to limit damages awarded to plaintiffs in courts.

Tennessee remains 1 of 16 states without caps on damages on how much abused TN nursing home residents, or their survivors, may recover, leaving such decisions to Tennessee juries and Tennessee judges to determine. But last year, the Tennessee House and Senate saw a nursing home bill that would limit non-economic damages, such as severe pain, emotional distress, and disfigurement, and limit the amount of punitive damages a company operating a negligent/abusive Tennessee nursing home would pay. Now, in 2009, Tennessee law makers will see another such nursing home bill.

The nursing home special interests have an interesting argument. They believe negligent and abusive nursing homes should only be liable for “real” damages, that is, only the abused’s hospital bill for broken bones or the ointment used to treat the pressure sore (click here for more signs of TN nursing nursing home abuse). In other words, bruises from being punched or kick or roughly handled might result in no emergency room treatment or hospital stay, so there’s no real “damage” being done. Their other argument: paying their nursing home abuse damages makes running a nursing home in Tennessee more expensive.

So, instead of improving care to reduce abuse/neglect lawsuits, nursing home companies want to cap their losses.

After the closing of the Tennessee State Veterans Home in Murfreesboro last year and Tennessee nursing homes’ dismal CMMS ratings (third worst in the nation), it’s a shock to me that nursing home representatives think they have a foot to stand on. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) evaluated data from 319 Tennessee nursing homes and gave over a third its lowest rating of one star (10 of those Nashville-area nursing homes).

Tennessee’s nursing homes need real improvements, not get-out-of-jail free cards. When you’re dealing with nursing home owners, you’re primarily dealing with large nursing home chains owned by investment groups who are looking to cut corners and increase profits for investors. As I’ve blogged here on the Tennessee Law Blog and spoken about on Tennessee Mornings in an effort to get the word out, nursing home companies don’t listen to angry letters or change their minds after seeing pictures of bedsores or unsanitary conditions, they listen to dollars and cents.

If you suspect a loved one to be a victim of a nursing home abuse or neglect in a Nashville nursing home or any facilitated care facility in Tennessee, contact me, Jim Higgins, attorney-at-law for a free consultation. Call our Nashville, TN offices using our toll-free nursing home abuse hotline at 1.800.705.2121 or fill out our TN nursing home abuse/neglect form to speak to an attorney.

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