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Improper use of restraints may constitute nursing home abuse

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2024 | Nursing Home Neglect |

Many aging individuals do not like to admit the limitations on their own abilities. They may try to continue driving when they cannot do so safely or may refuse assistance when undertaking tasks that put them at risk of a fall or other serious injuries.

Additionally, older adults experiencing cognitive decline or dementia might become combative toward healthcare providers and family members if they feel confused. Sometimes, nursing homes have to provide care for older adults who are highly uncooperative. Occasionally, the workers at these facilities engage in abusive behavior because of a resident’s conduct. They might use physical or chemical restraints far more often than they should. Doing so is a dangerous form of nursing home abuse.

Why do nursing homes use restraints?

In theory, nursing homes should only use restraints when doing so is medically necessary for the protection of staff members, struggling residents and other people living at the facility. If someone becomes a threat to themselves or others, then nursing home workers can use physical restraints to prevent them from harming themselves or leaving a room.

They might also use chemical restraints, including sedatives, to calm someone down so that they do not pose an immediate threat of injury to themselves or others. Of course, the person could have an adverse reaction to the medication administered or may hurt themselves with the restraints themselves.

Nursing homes should make every reasonable effort to minimize the use of both physical and chemical restraints because of the risk involved. Restraints should only play a role in emergency scenarios and are not tools for controlling or punishing uncooperative residents.

Staff members need to develop a rapport with uncooperative older adults and find ways to support them without drugging them or physically restraining them in a manner that could lead to worse outbursts and severe injuries. Unfortunately, expediency and convenience often win out over best practices in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Family members may learn after someone ends up physically injured or sickened by medication that the nursing home has engaged in the inappropriate use of physical or chemical restraints. It may then be necessary to move that older adult into a different facility. In some cases, it may be possible to take legal action against a nursing home that used restraints in a manner inconsistent with best practices.

Understanding that physical and chemical restraint should be the last option might help people more easily recognize such signs of injuries caused by nursing home abuse.