Louisville Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer Discusses Residents’ Rights
Physical restraints in a long-term health care facility include anything that restricts or limits a person’s ability to move freely – this includes both physical restraints, like handcuffs, as well as chemical restraints, such as sedative medications.
The Kentucky Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights states that residents “shall be . . . free from chemical and physical restraints.” In addition, the federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 also strictly prohibits residents from being physically or chemically restrained for discipline or for the staff members’ convenience. Only in emergency situations, or in situations where residents are a risk to themselves or to other residents, can a Kentucky nursing home resident be restrained. In order to restrain a resident, a physician must write an order with details of why, when, and how long a resident can be restrained.
Unfortunately, many nursing home residents are unnecessarily restrained in spite of these laws. One study estimates that approximately 250,000 nursing home residents in the United States are restrained each year without good reason. Sadly, every year, nearly 250 residents in long-term facilities die from strangulation or suffocation associated with these restraints.
If your senior loved one has been wrongfully physically or chemically restrained while residing in a nursing home or adult care center, you may wish to speak with an attorney about your loved one’s rights, as well as your options for filing a Kentucky nursing home abuse claim. Speak to attorney Seth Gladstein about your possible case today by calling 800-991-0474.
Types of Physical Restraints Used in Nursing Homes
When most people think about nursing home restraints, they only think about residents being tied down to their bed. However, there are a number of ways that nursing home staff members may restrain patients – legally or illegally. Some of these physical restraint methods may not even look like physical restraints to the untrained eye:
- Hand mitts
- Hand and ankle cuffs
- Bars, tables, and trays that cannot be removed
- Side rails on hospital beds
- Wheelchairs with locked trays or bars.
Nursing Home Chemical Restraints
Chemical restraints are an extremely common and extremely insidious aspect of nursing home life in the United States today. Some believe that millions of residents are the victims of illegally utilized chemical restraints, but despite recent public outcry and an increase in awareness, abuse continues.
Chemical restraints are commonly placed into three different categories: Benzodiazepines, typical or classic antipsychotics, and atypical antipsychotics. The third category of drugs, atypical antipsychotics, is given to a large number of nursing home residents, even though they are highly controversial.
Just as with physical restraints, there is an appropriate time and place for medications that calm agitated patients, such as those suffering from advanced dementia. However, these medications should be carefully prescribed and closely monitored by a doctor. Far too often, nursing home residents are put on a cocktail of sedatives and other drugs in an effort to put the resident in a zombie-like state, and to reduce the amount of time and attention that they require. This is wrong, illegal, and inhumane.
Why Inappropriate Restraints Are Used in Nursing Homes
Inappropriate physical and chemical restraints may be used because:
- The nursing home does not properly train staff members.
- The nursing home is understaffed.
- The nursing home does not properly vet its staff members.
- The nursing home is not following a patient’s care plan.
- The resident’s doctor is not acting ethically.
Damages Caused by Physical and Chemical Restraints
Physical and chemical restraints don’t just prevent the resident from moving – thereby stealing his or her freedom – but they also have serious physical and mental consequences that steal away a person’s health and ruin his or her quality of life:
- Loss of dignity
- Psychological trauma
- Depression and anxiety
- Weakened bones
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Bruising and lacerations
- Confusion and decreased cognitive function
- Contractures of the arms and legs
- Agitation that increases
- Wasting away of muscle tissue
- Physical de-conditioning
It is vital to understand that the individuals and entities that are responsible for your loved one’s wrongful restraints are also responsible for damages.
Contact A Kentucky Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today
It is time for the epidemic of illegal physical and chemical restraint use in nursing homes to end. If your elder loved one has suffered at the hands of those who are charged with his or her safety and care, act now to take legal action. At Gladstein Law, we are dedicated to helping our clients get the justice and compensation that they deserve. To request a free, private consultation with a Louisville nursing home abuse attorney today, please call our offices at 502-855-4177 or 800-991-0474. You may also fill out our short contact form.
*Each case is different and the past record is no assurance that we will be successful in reaching a favorable result in any future case. Client pays costs only upon recovery.