A news team in Little Rock, Arkansas, reported that local nursing home residents were being encouraged to sign tort reform documents limiting damages and attorney fees they could receive should they ever become involved in a medical malpractice suit against the facility. More than 20 different nursing home facilities investigated had staff members that had been soliciting signatures from residents with severe mental incapacities. Family members are outraged and appalled at the underhanded action of an establishment they are expected to trust.
According to the Attorney General’s office, as long as a nursing home resident is deemed “competent” a facility is legally allowed to obtain their signature on documents without first consulting with family members or a power-of-attorney. Competency is commonly thought of as a medical determination but it is not, rather it is a legal determination based on medical evidence. Therefore, a resident can be suffering from severe dementia and still be competent because a court has not determined that they are incompetent.