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Do I have to sign the “Acknowledgement of Risk of Liability for Skin Breakdown” form?

Dear Advocate:

My mom is moving into a nursing home, and there’s a form in the admission agreement called “Acknowledgement of Risk of Liability for Skin Breakdown.” They tried to get me to sign this along with the admissions agreement in their business office, before I could read everything carefully. What is this form? Do I have to sign it?

Skeptical in San Bernardino

Dear Skeptical in San Bernadino,

No! This form is illegal and is designed to shield the nursing home from liability, if they provide substandard care that results in skin breakdown for your mother. California nursing homes are required by law to use a Standard Admission Agreement (CDPH 327), developed by the Department of Public Health. You cannot be required to sign any document other than the Standard Admission Agreement, as a condition of admission to a nursing home. Furthermore, any form titled, “Acknowledgment of Risk of Liability for [Skin Breakdown/ Falls/ Elopement]” or “Waiver of Liability for…” is designed to protect the nursing home if their poor care results in injury for your mother. Waivers of liability are expressly prohibited in nursing home admission agreements, and should be seen as red flags. Skin breakdown is a sign of poor quality of care and low staffing ratios – it is not an expected or unavoidable consequence of nursing home care. If these documents are presented as part of an admissions agreement, contact CANHR at (800) 474-1116 and file a complaint with the Department of Public Health.