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Friday, June 8, 2012

What is a Long Term Care Ombudsmen?

Recently, I have seen several commercials for personal injury lawyers targeting those of us with family members in nursing homes.  These commercials are misleading, and they imply that if you have any questions or doubts about your loved one's care in a facility, this is an opportunity for you to make money through a personal injury lawsuit.

If you have questions about what is happening inside a long-term care facility, your first call should not be to a personal injury lawyer, it should be to your state's long term care Ombudsmen's office. As defined by the Administration on Aging, "Long-Term Care Ombudsmen are advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, assisted living facilities and similar adult care facilities. They work to resolve problems of individual residents and to bring about changes at the local, state and national levels that will improve residents’ care and quality of life."

For more information on the Long-term Care Ombudsmen program, to volunteer as an Ombudsman in your area, or to locate your state Ombudsmen's office, visit these links:

National Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Resource Center -  http://www.ltcombudsman.org/

Administration on Aging - http://www.aoa.gov/AoA_programs/Elder_Rights/Ombudsman/index.aspx


Only when the Ombudsmen is unable to determine (to your satisfaction) what has happened, or has determined that abuse has taken place, should you consider a lawsuit against the facility. And then you should be mindful that your loved one's experiences in long-term care are not an opportunity for you to win the personal injury lottery.

Nursing homes are insufficiently funded by Medicare and Medicaid as it is; they should not have to wast their limited funding defending against unnecessary lawsuits.