Nursing Homes Prey on Relatives of Deceased

Lucille Brooks was sued in 2020 for nearly $8,000 by a nursing home that had taken care of her brother. Image credit: Heather Ainsworth for KHN

Imagine picking up the phone to find that you are being sued by the nursing home where your loved one recently passed away. A father, a brother, an aunt. For many people, nursing homes are the final resting place, along with the last remnants of their pennies. Many of these facilities require extensive signatures on paperwork from those who bring their loved ones to the homes for care. When you find yourself in this situation, you are obviously distraught and the perfect prey. So now these nursing homes are using these signatures to sue family members and even friends for unpaid bills. With little to no evidence, these homes claim that the person who brought a family member is hiding assets for the patient and that they are financially responsible. The team of lawyers from the nursing home scares the person into paying the bills by instilling the fear that they will take their property from them. Many were just signatories on what they thought was necessary paperwork to get their loved one care.

If we had a ‘cradle to grave’ healthcare system, if we had a society that focused on people’s needs instead of profit, this couldn’t happen. The private, for-profit system will extract the last penny from your last breath, and if you stop breathing, they’ll look for someone near you to pay.