Tennesseans with loved ones in a TN nursing home should be very concerned with a bill pending vote later today in the Tennessee House of Representative. The bill, called the “ChooseCareTN Act,” threatens to put a price tag on nursing home neglect and abuse in the State of Tennessee.
HB 2243, filed by Rep. Jon Lundberg (Bristol), would dictate the amount Tennessee judges and juries can award victims of Tennessee nursing home abuse and neglect. This proposal does nothing to acknowledge the poor state of or improve Tennessee nursing home care, which ranks 47th in the U.S. HB 2243 does nothing to reduce the leading factor in nursing home abuse and neglect injuries: understaffing. Instead, this bill allows out-of-state and large nursing home companies to profit from conditions conducive to nursing home resident neglect and abuse.
A federal study released earlier this year shows 60% of TN nursing homes understaffed. Successful nursing home attorneys in Tennessee such as myself have stressed, and TN home owners and staff have long admitted, that more staff equals better care. It seems the nursing home industry supporting the ChooseCareTN Act (including Murfreesboro-based NHC) agrees. The bill offers lower level of punitive damage caps a nursing home in Tennessee pays victims of abuse/neglect according to how well staffed it is.
But reducing the fear of a massive lawsuit for severe nursing home abuse or neglect in Tennessee does nothing to provide staff to our state’s nursing homes. HB 2243 will also make all negligent acts in a Tennessee nursing home, whether from an orderly or nurse, protected under the protection licensed TN doctors receive under the Medical Malpractice Act. For these and other strong reasons, AARP Tennessee opposes this bill capping TN nursing home lawsuits.
AARP Tennessee says TN nursing home residents receive an average of 30 minutes of care per day, or only two-thirds of what experts recommend for care each and every day. TN is in the worst ten states for registered nurse staffing levels and for certified nursing hours in its nursing homes.
HB 2243’s sister Senate Bill 2160 is sponsored by Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville. Other Tennessee Congresspersons supporting the nursing home industry over nursing home resident care include: Rep. Glen Casada (Franklin), Rep. Joe Carr (Lascassas), Rep. Steve McDaniel (Parkers Crossroads), Rep. Vance Dennis (Savannah), Rep. Bill Harmon (Dunlap), Rep. Lois DeBerry (Memphis), Rep. Jason Mumpower (Bristol), and Rep. Judd Matheny (Tullahoma).
If you have a loved one in a Tennessee nursing home, you have a right to demand quality care. It is wrong to remove the protection of a lawsuit’s punitive damages or to remove the ability of a Tennessee court to decided damages appropriate to the suffering a negligent nursing home has permitted. It is wrong to allow talk of “big verdicts” for “out-of-state” nursing home lawyers to replace what decides these cases: 1) the TN nursing home has done wrong to a Tennessean in its care, and 2) a jury or judge decides a fitting compensation for the victim and, when necessary, a fitting punishment for the nursing home.
We cannot allow the nursing home industry make laws that limit their punishment when they do wrong. Not when that wrong means significant or permanent injury or death to a Tennessee nursing home resident.
If you or a loved one have experienced negligent care in a TN nursing home, act now. Contact Higgins Firm using our nursing home attorney contact form.