In a November 10, 2011 editorial, Dr. John Morley, the Director of Geriatrics at St. Louis University, provided further evidence that physical and chemical restraints harm elderly patients more than they help.
Currently, physical and chemical restraints are used on less than 5% of elderly patients. However, less than 30 years ago, more than 50% of nursing home residents were either physically or chemically restrained. In most instances, healthcare providers use patient restraints to prevent falls, or other adverse events, such as patients pulling out IV and feeding tubes. However, there are instances where nursing home staff members restraint patients, because they believe that residents are disruptive, or are simply too difficult to handle.
According to Dr. Morley, several studies have demonstrated that there is a direct correlation between using restraints and patient falls. Specifically, more patients fall when nursing home use chemical restraints. Similarly, studies have shown that restraints can cause elderly nursing home residents to suffer confusion, discomfort, increased agitation, and decubitus ulcers (also known as bed sores). It is important to note that U.S. nursing homes utilize physical and chemical restraints significantly more than their European counterparts. This has led once widely known and respected medical journal, The Lancet, to characterize U.S. nursing homes’ use of restraints as “absurd” and “distasteful.”
On a related note, The Courier-Journal reported today that eight of 64 Kentucky nursing homes inspected within the last three months had no deficiencies. The Courier-Journal quoted Bernie Vonderheide, a member of the advocacy group, Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform, as saying, “We like to see that sort of thing.”
State investigators inspect every Kentucky nursing at least once a year to ensure that they comply with the relevant guidelines and regulations, and are providing residents safe and competent care. According to Mr. Vonderheide, the recent survey results are the first time that investigators have found so many Kentucky nursing homes to be without problems. However, these findings show that almost 90% of all Kentucky nursing homes have some deficiencies, and may not be providing our older loved ones the care that they legally, ethically, and morally deserve.
Read Dr. Morley’s editorial here: http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/fitness/5038910b-6795-5a55-8691-fd57786a2722.html