For many people, making the decision to place one of their relatives in a nursing home or other facility can be a difficult one. They may not have the time or the capabilities to give their aging or otherwise impaired loved ones the care that they need, but they find it nerve-wracking to have their relative cared for by strangers, and worry that they will not receive adequate care, or that they may be a victim of a random accident and they will not be able to see their loved one before they pass. One recent example is the death of 12 senior citizens in a Florida nursing home after Hurricane Irma took out the facility’s air conditioning. Many of the residents’ family members have filed lawsuits and have expressed displeasure with the facility’s operations.
One of the most common reservations people have about nursing homes and other similar facilities is the fear that their loved ones will not receive proper treatment at the facility: professional liability concerns. Between 2011 and 2015, the most common claims filed in the senior care industry were resident falls at 42.7%, and other allegations of improper care (excluding falls) came in at 14.7%. Because nursing home residents often have specialized healthcare requirements, professional liability concerns can include errors in administering medication, disregarding physician instructions, inadequate staffing, failure to properly maintain the facility (in a manner leading to illness, injury, or death), and improper treatment and diagnosis. Because of this, having professional liability insurance is crucial for facilities to protect themselves in the event of these suits, but these are not common occurrences: reputable nursing home facilities thoroughly screen their nurses and staff their facilities with qualified caregivers who can give the level of care that their patients need.
Many people also have concerns over potential hazards that do not fall under the window of “professional services”. These would fall under general liability insurance, and can include accidents. For example, as a result of recent storms, many facilities saw severe property damage. While this is not at all the fault of the facility and in some cases unavoidable, it still does have the potential to lead to difficult situations and possible injuries or worse. Nursing homes are strongly encouraged to carry general liability insurance to protect themselves from lawsuits stemming from standard business operations, and are also encouraged to develop risk management plans that will protect the facility and its residents from large-scale disasters and unforeseen incidents.
Aside from the potential dangers to residents, many family members also worry that facilities may not be enjoyable for their loved ones. As we have covered in previous blogs about assisted living facilities and home health care, many people believe that nursing homes strip their residents’ independence away or that they will not be able to see their loved ones. While facilities do ultimately want their residents to be safe, residents who have been deemed able to do so safely can live independently and fill their days with activities, and many facilities allow visitors at any time.
In upcoming articles, we will take a close look at some of the various liabilities that nursing homes and similar facilities face, and how facilities can better prepare themselves and protect their residents through insurance policies and risk management measures.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at 317.575.4454.