Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lawsuits Don’t Lead to Better Nursing Home Care - New York Times


We tend to think of a lawsuit as a kind of slingshot allowing the little guy to take on a daunting Goliath — a large nursing home chain, say. If you can’t persuade a facility to provide proper care, if your elderly relative has suffered unnecessarily as a result, then you can sue.

By doing so, you not only force the responsible parties to make amends for negligence or other errors, the logic goes — you also compel them to shape up, and thus provide better care for everyone.

It’s disturbing, therefore, to learn from a recent analysis in The New England Journal of Medicine that this notion doesn’t really hold. If lawsuits were a quality-control measure, then lousy nursing homes would be sued far more often than good ones. Providing excellent care would prevent litigation.

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