"Or . . . What Would Elder Care Be Like Without Trial Lawyers and Juries?"
This is another in my "what would life be like without trial lawyers?" (and jury trials) series. Glad everyone is enjoying it.
As we age, we become increasingly more vulnerable and helpless. The use of chemical restraints - drugs used to subdue or even restrain patients - has increased dramatically in nursing homes of the last several years, although the vast majority of the patients upon whom those drugs are used have no psychiatric diagnosis.
Trial attorneys have exposed a cynical reason that these drugs are used - to cover up the need to do deeper and more thorough medical care and to respectfully and carefully take care of older people - and its lawyers and lawsuits that have helped get patients off of these stifling anti-psychotics. They've also taken on the pharmaceutical giants that illegally market these medications to control senior populations.
Each year, 14,000 nursing home patients die nationwide of malnutrition and dehydration. In addition, nearly 160,000 residents had at least one pressure ulcer - sores that come from not moving patients around - yet only 35% of those with the most severe ulcers receive special care for their wounds. Why is that?
Because facilities want to pay the worst employees as little as possible - instead of the best employees as much as they need - in order to give the best care to older folks. They want to maximize profits and hope that old folks, helpless and not able to advocate for themselves, will just "disappear," leaving only dollars behind.
It's trial lawyers acting on behalf of injured and neglected residents in nursing homes and nursing facilities and hospitals that have improved patient care. It's not the government and it's not "self-governance" by these institutions.
Older patients are at risk from bedrail deaths, insurance denials, and forced arbitration clauses that prevent access to the courts, trial lawyers and juries.
What makes all of this better? Has the government done it on it's own? No. Has the industry done it on it's own? No. It's juries and trial lawyers.