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Is Using Restraints on Nursing Home Patients Legal?

On Behalf of | May 11, 2023 | Firm News

Use of Restraints in Nursing Homes

In nursing homes, restraints are sometimes used to help facilitate the patient getting the best care they deserve. In some cases, using restraints becomes problematic or abusive when not appropriately handled.

According to Cornell University, “the resident has a right to be free from any chemical or physical restraints imposed for purposes of discipline or convenience.”

Restraining a patient may include things like bed rails, securing limbs through ties or straps, tucking in sheets too tightly, placing bars or brakes on wheelchairs, vests, straps or belts, and more. The object is to keep the patient from moving freely to avoid hurting themselves or others. In some cases, restraints are overused and can lead to abusive behaviors.

When handled inappropriately, the patient can feel like they cannot move freely or take care of themselves and are forced to live in an immobile state which is considered abuse if unnecessary.

Chemical restraints are also used in rare circumstances. Chemical restraints can include things like sedatives or antipsychotics that are used to limit the patient’s abilities.

What is the Standard of Care Expected From Nursing Home Staff?

Nursing homes are expected to vet their staff thoroughly before hiring them to ensure they have significant knowledge of caring for patients in their facilities. Staff should be able to determine how to care for the patients without using improper restraints that limit their mobility.

Management should be prepared to provide adequate training on how to care for patients without improper restraint or other damage to the patients. Alternatives to restraints should be trained, as well as how to use restraints when absolutely necessary to cause the least pain or suffering to the patient.

If employed staff cannot care for the patients without improperly restraining them, they should be adequately trained, reprimanded, or terminated. The best practice is to attempt to get permission from the patient if physical restraint is necessary for their care so they don’t hurt themselves or others. Alternatives must be evaluated to better care for the patient without restraints before utilizing restraints for basic care needs.

When Are Restraints Permitted?

In some cases, restraints are necessary. If it can be determined that the patient is highly likely to hurt themselves or others without restraints, they can be viewed as proper care. It must also be apparent that by restraining the patient, the effectiveness of their care is improved, and without restraints, damage is likely to the patient or their caregivers.

It must also be demonstrated that other options were closely reviewed to avoid restraints and that the restraints cause as little harm or hindrance to the patient as possible.

Every method must be carefully scrutinized with the patient’s well-being in mind and individual to the patient’s needs. Every patient or resident has a right to a standard duty of care and physical and emotional health without unnecessary harm or hindrance.

When is a Nursing Home Liable for Using Restraints?

Suppose it is found that a nursing home utilized restraints on a patient when it was unnecessary. In that case, they can be found in violation of the resident’s rights and violating the standard duty of care for a patient. Using restraints improperly violates the resident’s respect, dignity, and freedom and can therefore become a legal issue resulting in damages that the facility and workers are responsible for.

A resident may suffer physical or emotional injuries, illness, and more due to the inappropriate use of restraints. The nursing home would be liable for any medical care necessary to care for injuries or illnesses caused to the patient. Also, it may be responsible for compensating the resident financially for the pain and suffering caused by the restraints.

Signs To Look For to Protect Your Loved One

Determining if your loved one is experiencing trauma from unnecessary restraints may be difficult. A few ways to be vigilant is to be aware of abrupt changes in their mental well-being. Withdrawal, frequent agitation, depression, and anxiety can manifest from unnecessary restraints.

Bed sores, weakened muscles, or abrupt changes in mobility can also occur if restraints are used frequently, limiting the resident’s ability to perform duties they used to due to consistent restriction of movement.

Let an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Be Your Advocate

It can be tough to wrap your brain around the idea that your elderly loved one is in danger within the walls of a care facility. Though it’s not common, abuse through restraining residents or other various abuse does occur and is a serious matter.

We understand and appreciate that you want to advocate for your loved ones, especially when they can no longer do so for themselves. With years of experience, we have helped many clients to ease their concerns and address issues that may have occurred.

With endless compassion and drive to be your advocate, we assure you we can assist you with this delicate matter. Contact our office today at 706-420-2949 to confidentially discuss your concerns and determine a strategy to protect your loved one. Discussing these private matters with a trusted professional can quickly bring peace of mind to determine if there is cause for concern and how to remain vigilant to issues.

You are not alone and shouldn’t shoulder these concerns by yourself. Call our office for a compassionate consultation, and we will devise a plan together to protect your elderly loved one now and in the future.