Improper Use Of Restraints

Physical Restraints And Medication May Be Used Inappropriately

When caring for nursing home residents, it is sometimes necessary to carry out actions that limit their freedom of movement. Hopefully, this is done for reasons of good care — perhaps restraints can prevent a nursing home resident from harming him or herself or another. However, in some cases, physical restraints, medication or drugs may be used inappropriately to confine nursing home residents to their rooms or to keep them in bed. Improper use of restraints is a clear violation of a nursing home resident's right to live without fear of enduring physical restraint.

Types Of Restraints Used In Nursing Homes

Nursing home residents with functional disabilities, mobility problems, cognitive disturbances, behavioral problems or a history of multiple falls are most likely to be restrained by nursing home staff. Restraints generally take the form of either physical restraints or chemical restraints. Examples of physical restraints include vests, straps, belts, limb ties, wheelchair bars and brakes, chairs that tip backwards, tucking the sheets in too tightly, and bedside rails. Chemical restraints include sedatives, antipsychotics and anxiolytics.

A nursing home resident may also be improperly restrained by being locked in a room or subjected to electronic surveillance, force or pressure while receiving medical treatment or simply while conducting daily activities. Depending on the situation, the use of restraints may be motivated by routine behavior, a negative attitude regarding job duties or a particular resident, or a limited ability or desire to appropriately handle problem behavior.

Physical Risks Associated With The Use Of Restraints

There are numerous physical risks associated with the improper use of restraints in nursing homes, including:

  • Bruises
  • Ulcers
  • Respiratory complications
  • Urinary incontinence and constipation
  • Under-nutrition
  • Increased dependence in activities of daily living
  • Impaired muscle strength and balance
  • Decreased cardiovascular endurance
  • Increased agitation
  • Increased risk of mortality caused by strangulation or as a consequence of serious injuries

In addition to the physical harm caused by restraints, many nursing home residents experience emotional trauma as the result of being restrained, including feelings of shame, loss of dignity and self-respect, loss of identity, anxiety and aggression, social isolation and disillusionment.

Contact Us If Improper Restraints Have Harmed Your Loved One

The use improper restraints can significantly harm nursing home residents — physically and emotionally. If you fear your loved one has been inappropriately restrained, physically or with medication, please contact O'Brien Batten & Kirtley, PLLC, to schedule a free initial consultation. We can help you protect your loved one from further abuse and seek compensation for any past injuries.