Nursing Home Restraints

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The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 gave all nursing home residents the right to be free from restraints when the restraints are used for disciplinary purposes or for the convenience of the nursing home corporation. Restraints can be either chemical (i.e., medication designed to make the resident passive) or physical. Regardless of the type of restraint sought, they must be ordered by a doctor. Restraints used without a physician’s order are illegal.

Chemical restraints are usually antipsychotic drugs that are used by the nursing home to control individuals who suffer from dementia or anxiety. For a nursing home focused primarily on reducing its budget and operating on minimal staff, chemically restrained residents are easier to control and require less care than active residents. In fact, staffing shortages are a leading culprit in explaining why some nursing homes choose to restrain residents.

A physical restraint is usually a device placed next to or around a resident to limit or eliminate movement by the resident. One of the most common examples of a physical restraint is the side rail on the bed. Designed to prevent a resident from falling out of bed, side rails can sometimes do more harm than good. Some of the most common injuries with side rails are falls when an unmonitored resident attempts to crawl over the side rail or asphyxiation when a resident becomes entrapped between the mattress and the side rail. Nursing homes are supposed to evaluate residents for these known dangers and supervise accordingly. When they choose not to, the resident is at great risk for serious injury or death.

Physical Restraint Injuries

Physical restraints restrict an individual’s movement in some way. Physical restraints commonly used in nursing homes include:

Wrist and ankle restraints

Hand mitts

Bed rails

Vests tied to beds or chairs

Chemical Restraint Injuries in Nursing Home

In nursing homes, psychoactive drugs are the most common types of chemical restraints given to residents who are uncooperative or restless. Using these types of drugs in such an unethical manner can have devastating consequences. Because of chemical restraints, the patient may do any of the following:

Become confused

Become disoriented

Be unable to carry out the tasks of daily living

Become agitated

Experience an overall decrease in quality of life

Effects of Improper Use of Restraints

Although you will not be able to monitor the actions of nursing home staff around the clock to ensure that they are, in fact, properly using restraints, knowing the signs of improper use of restraints can help you identify when or if your loved one may be the victim of nursing home abuse. Some indications of the improper use of restraints can include:

Physical injuries, such as bedsores or wrist and/or ankle damage

Diminished mental capacity, such as disorientation, depression or an inability to process thoughts, when chemical restraints are being used.

How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

If you believe that a loved one may be the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse you should take action quickly and contact us online or call us at  866.441.1417 to set up a free consultation. Someone from our team is available to speak with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.