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Nursing home residents: no signature, no suit for nonpayment?

According to the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, “[b]efore a person is admitted to a facility…a written contract shall be executed between a licensee and [a patient or patient’s representative].”

That's the letter of the statute. Not surprisingly, though, not every admittee signs on the dotted line. "Sometimes signatures cannot practically be obtained prior to admittance," write Laura A. Elkayam and Lawrence J. Stark in the latest ISBA Health Care Law newsletter. Or sometime patients won't sign. Or the nursing home just fails to get the signature.

So let's assume a patient who didn't sign, rang up a big tab and didn't pay. Is the nursing home left holding the bag because it failed to get the signature and thus didn't comply with the act?

Yes and no, Elkayam and Stark write. They discuss a recent first district case holding that nursing homes can seek relief under quantum meruit but "public policy, as expressed by the Act, required dismissal of breach of contract claims predicated on these unsigned documents." Read their analysis of the case and the possible impact of a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision.

Posted on September 14, 2011 by Mark S. Mathewson
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