Restraints in Nursing Home Abuse

The Six Warning Signs, What They Mean

Restraints

Nursing homes use restraints in both physical and chemical forms to make residents more “manageable.”  The easiest means of management is to treat patients like prisoners by limiting their mobility.  A negligent nursing home staff’s convenience puts your loved one in their care in danger of strangulation, decubitus ulcers, adverse drug reactions, and reduced bone mass—not to mention the physical discomfort and feelings of frustration and loss of dignity that come when a person with otherwise full mobility is forced to stay seated for hours in a chair or lying in a bed unable to get up to use the restroom or move about.

Examples of Physical Restraints Used in Nursing Homes

Physical restraints involve any method that individuals cannot remove easily and that restricts their freedom to move and to access their body normally.  Some examples of physical restraints include (but are not limited to): leg restraints, arm restraints, vest or jacket restraints, waist belts, hand mitts, cuffs, wheelchair safety bars, bedrails, and lap pillows.

But not all physical restraints tie residents up or lock them down.  Nursing homes also restrain your loved ones by using less obvious physical restraints.  These include tucking a sheet in so tightly that a patient cannot move or placing a wheelchair-bound patient so close to a wall that the wall prevents the patient from rising.  Negligent nursing home workers are continually finding new ways of cutting corners in their care for your loves ones.

The Danger of Nursing Home’s Chemical Restraints

Any nontherapeutic drug that prevents a person from normal mobility should be considered a chemical restraint.  While mood-altering drugs can be useful in restoring good health, psychoactive drugs can be misused as chemical restraints to sedate a patient for the convenience of the nursing home or to discipline someone who is uncooperative.  Such cruel punishment is unfortunately not uncommon.

Pharmaceutical abuse is less apparent as it does not leave bruises or other markings on the skin.  It may also be difficult for the abused to detect.  While abused nursing home residents may suspect they are being drugged, sometimes these residents wait too longer—until major internal injury or death from an adverse reaction with drugs necessary for their health—to have their suspicions tragically confirmed.

Legal Restraints on Restraints

Both chemical and physical restraints must be prescribed by a doctor.  Anyone restrained under medical orders must be very closely monitored.  Personal injury while in restraints is very common, especially for bodies weakened by age.

Outside of emergency situations, restraints should rarely, if ever, be used.  Instead, alternatives to restraints should be used.  These include:

  • Restorative nursing programs, such as walking, eating, toileting, bathing, and involvement in center activity programs to occupy patient’s time and attention.
  • Correct wheelchairs that are in good working order and correct size for patient use.
  • Taped messages from family members to play when patient is agitated.
  • Toileting schedules for patients at risk of falling.
  • Using staff interventions and education to prevent triggering inappropriate behavioral responses from patients.
  • Use of safety devices that trigger an alarm when a wandering patient tries to leave a safe protected environment.

Nursing homes should be safe, caring places for our loved ones to receive decent, dignified care.  There is no reason for your loved one to suffer the humiliation or anxiety of being immobilized by restraints because the nursing home staff wants to make their job easier.

Lawyers for Change

If you believe your loved one has suffered or is presently suffering from unnecessary and abusive nursing home practices, don’t hesitate. Contact the Timothy McCandless at the number listed above for free information and consultation. Our experience nursing home attorneys span the nation providing advice and legal representation to those injured by nursing homes.

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