Does Unreasonable Restraint of a Nursing Home Resident Break the Law?
August 31, 2020 Published in Nursing Home Abuse,Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home residents have the same rights as any other patient at a medical facility. They are also afforded specific rights under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act as well as other state and federal legislation. Residents have the right to wear their own clothes and use their own personal property, enjoy a reasonable level of privacy, practice their chosen religion, and much more. Sadly, one of the most important rights afforded to nursing home residents is also one of the most commonly violated. Although nursing home residents have a legal right to be free of unnecessary restraints, overuse of physical and chemical restraints persists throughout Illinois and the United States.
What Is a Restraint?
Restraints are anything used to limit a resident’s movement or independence. Physical restraints include items like arm and leg restraints, ties, vests, and hand mitts. Everyday items can also be used as restraints. For example, bed sheets may be tucked in tightly in order to keep a resident from getting out of bed. Wheelchair wheel locks may be used to stop a resident from moving about the facility. Chemical restraints are substances used to sedate a resident. Medications such as antipsychotic drugs and benzodiazepines are sometimes administered to nursing home residents “off label” to keep them calm.
When May Restraints Be Used on a Resident?
Many nursing home residents suffer from mental illnesses and cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. They may sometimes become confused, aggressive, and combative. In their delirium, they may attempt to harm themselves or others. Although restraints are occasionally necessary to prevent resident injury, they may only be used in very specific circumstances. The Nursing Home Care Act states that physical and chemical restraints must only be used when the restraints are:
Necessary for the resident’s physical or mental safety
Authorized by the resident or his or her guardian
Used only for brief periods of time
Ordered by a physician
Documented in the resident’s medical records
The Nursing Home Care Act specifically states that restraints may not be used to punish a resident or simply for the staff’s convenience. Unfortunately, chemical restraints are often used for exactly those purposes. Not only is the practice of using unnecessary chemical restraints unethical and unlawful, it also puts residents’ lives at risk. Antipsychotic medication in particular is very dangerous for elderly people with dementia. Because these drugs have been shown to increase the risk of stroke and death in people suffering from dementia, they carry a “black box” warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Contact a Peoria Nursing Home Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one was unreasonably restrained through physical or chemical means while living in a nursing home, contact the experienced law firm of Kanoski Bresney to discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for this unlawful mistreatment. Call our office at 888-826-8682 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation with one of our knowledgeable Bloomington nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys.