Restraints in Nursing Homes

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In some situations, nursing home patients may be properly restrained to ensure that they do not hurt themselves or others. But nursing home residents should not be subject to physical, chemical (drugs) or psychological restraints as punishment or for the staff’s convenience.

If a loved one of yours is being restrained in a Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, or Tennessee nursing home without a valid reason, the Becker Law Office can help you. We can help to change the nursing home’s practices and may be able to obtain compensation for the pain and suffering your loved one has suffered and for any medical care necessitated by the treatment.

Federal Law Protects Nursing Home Residents from Restraints

Nursing homes sometimes use restraints to control residents who are disruptive, have a history of falls, or who have mobility, cognitive or functional disabilities that make them need frequent assistance or supervision. Using restraints for these purposes is an improper and unlawful practice.

The federal Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987 says nursing home residents have the right to be free from physical or chemical restraints imposed for purposes of discipline or convenience, or that are otherwise not required to treat the resident’s medical symptoms.

Types of restraints used against patients in long-term care facilities may include:

  • Physical restraints: straps, belts, ties, vests, wheelchair bars or brakes, bedside rails, sheets tucked in too tightly
  • Chemical restraints: sedatives, antipsychotics, anxiety reducers
  • Emotional restraints: verbal threats, abuse or other psychological pressure; electronic surveillance; being locked in a room, etc.

Signs that restraints have been used on a nursing home resident include:

  • Straps, belts, ties, bed rails or other restraining devices on bed frames or in the resident’s room
  • Bruising on the resident’s arms, wrists, legs, ankles or in bands across the torso
  • Unexplained sleepiness, grogginess, lack of focus, etc., which may indicate medication
  • A resident in a wheelchair who rocks as if to try to dislodge brakes or blocking.

The use of restraints can cause medical problems and/or injury, including:

  • Strangulation
  • Bruising, lacerations
  • Loss of muscle tone and strength
  • Respiratory problems
  • Decreased bone density (with greater susceptibility for fractures)
  • Bedsores
  • Increased infections
  • Decreased mobility
  • Anxiety

  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Loss of dignity
  • Social isolation
  • Incontinence
  • Constipation
  • Functional decline and loss of independence
  • Potential death.

Instead of restraints, nursing home staff should approach problem residents with clinical interventions, such as trying to make them more comfortable physically, adjusting their medication, or providing companionship and/or activities to occupy and/or distract them.

If you recognize the signs of a nursing home resident having been restrained, you should ask staff and/or management why such measures are necessary and what options have been tried besides restraints. You should also consult a nursing home neglect and abuse attorney about your loved one’s rights and the possibility that he or she is being subjected to unlawful abuse.

Contact Our Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys

If your loved one is being improperly restrained in a nursing home, the Becker Law Office can help put an end to this unlawful practice and secure compensation for the pain and suffering your family member has endured. This may include money for additional medical care an injured patient requires because of the abuse.

Please contact the Becker Law Office today to set up a free legal consultation about how one of our nursing home neglect and abuse lawyers can help you. We can investigate and seek justice for you and your loved one.