Can You Sue for the Use of Restraints in Nursing Homes?
Physical restraints are used in nursing homes and even hospitals with the sole purpose of preventing movement of a patient. In most cases, restraints are used to protect the patient from themselves or from harming others.
While they have a purpose under a limited scope, the use of physical restraints has become an ethical issue when it comes to nursing home care. Restraints used too frequently or without probable cause could be dangerous or outright harmful to the resident. In some cases, nursing homes use restraints as a form of punishment or intimidation – making their use abuse.
A nursing home should only use restraints when necessary. Even if they have valid reasons for using them, they must monitor the resident and not leave those restraints in place longer than needed.
If your loved one has been continually restrained or you feel restraints are being used as a form of abuse, consult with a nursing home abuse attorney. In some instances, you and your loved ones may recover compensation for this type of underreported abuse.
Physical Restraint Usage in Fort Lauderdale Nursing Homes
Over the past few years, nursing homes have reduced the practice of restraints in their facilities. However, some homes are still using these devices more than necessary, and some medical staff members use them because they feel they cannot do their job otherwise – or they are unwilling to try alternative techniques.
Physical restraints can be harmful to the resident. Unfortunately, many family members are unaware when their loved one is restrained until they start to see other signs of abuse or neglect.
What Are Physical Restraints and How Are They Used?
Restraints come in various forms, and they do not have to include the typical arm restraints. Any device or method that attaches itself to the patient and prevents them from moving is a restraint. Restraints agitate patients, make them feel powerless, and can even aggravate anxiety.
Some typical physical restraints used in nursing homes include:
- Arm and wrist restraints
- Lap trays or wheelchair belts
- Bed rails
- Leg restraints
- Hand mitts
- Loop fasteners on clothing
- Soft ties
- Specialized chairs designed to immobilize the patient
The Negative Impact of Restraints
Physical restraints are often unnecessary in the nursing home setting. These restraints cause pain, and some patients may harm themselves trying to break free. Also, repeated use of restraints can lead to a decrease in physical activity, cause bedsores, and even lead to atrophy in the patient’s muscles.
When residents are restricted from moving, their body weakens. They also suffer psychological effects in addition to the emotional ones. A resident’s sense of dignity might be affected; they could suffer from anxiety, depression, or have a flare up of post-traumatic stress disorder. Some victims develop PTSD from repeated use of restraints.
The Ethical Dilemma of Restraint Usage in Nursing Homes
Some professionals outright ban the use of restraints in their facilities, while others feel that restraints are necessary. Professionals against their use argue that nurses and care staff use restraints to make their jobs easier rather than out of necessity.
Also, when physical restraints are used to control, punish, or subdue a patient for treatment or to correct undesirable behavior, it borders on abuse.
When Are Restraints Not Allowed?
Restraints have their use. But situations, where their use is warranted, are limited. State and federal laws dictate when restraints can be used, how long they may be used, and situations where they cannot be used.
Federal law does not allow for restraint use under the following circumstances:
- Nursing homes cannot use restraints to punish or discipline a resident.
- Nursing homes cannot use restraints for patient care – including to make patient care easier on the staff.
- Nursing homes cannot use restraints as a substitute for other forms of treatment or other activities to distract the patient.
- Nursing homes under no circumstances may use restraints to control a patient permanently.
Alternatives to Restraints
Nursing homes should use alternatives rather than to restrain a patient physically. These alternatives depend on the resident’s mental and physical health, but might include:
- Frequent checks on the resident
- Using appropriate seating
- Creating individualized daily schedules for the resident
- Using physical therapy to improve mobility and reduce the risk of injury
- Using more frequent supervision rather than restraining to avoid injury
- Assessing and modifying the resident’s environment
Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Using Restraints on a Loved One?
While most professionals in the field agree that restraints are unnecessary, there are also times where they would recognize a patient might require restraints. The law does allow for seniors in nursing homes to be free of restraints – including chemical restraints – for the use of control, convenience, or punishment.
Therefore, if your loved one was restrained for those purposes, they may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and emotional trauma.
Excessive use of physical restraints constitutes nursing home abuse. You can request compensation from the nursing home and ensure that they modify their procedures so that other residents are not subjected to similar treatment.
Compensation your loved one might be entitled to includes:
Medical Costs: Excessive use of physical restraints can lead to numerous medical expenses. Not only will your loved one require treatment for physical injuries they sustain, but they may need long-term psychotherapy for the emotional trauma stemming from this form of abuse.
Lost Wages: You might be entitled to compensation for your lost wages if you must miss work or quit your job to take care of your loved one because of the abuse.
Care Costs: The cost to transport your loved one, relocate them to another facility, and the funds paid for their stay during the abusive period may be compensated.
You Need a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
While the use of restraints can lead to a successful nursing home abuse claim, you need an attorney to represent your loved one and prove your case. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld P.A, can help you with your case.