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Is It Legal to Restrain Seniors?

Handley LLC Feb. 25, 2019

It is a surprisingly difficult job for people charged with maintaining the wellbeing of a resident of a senior care home. Older adults present a unique set of challenges for caregivers to meet a variety of needs unique to each resident. Otherwise, there are laws and personal injury attorneys in OKC for taking a step to ensure proper treatment.

Some residents of nursing homes have conditions that can require more patience and time to administer care. In nursing homes, Alzheimer's, dementia and other mental health problems that can make an elder less compliant with nursing staff are common. As a result of this failure to respect conditions such as these, many nursing homes have used physical restraints to simplify their jobs. The problem is that the use of such bindings often comes to the detriment of the well-being of the restrained individual.

Use of Restraints and Law

Use of restraints in nursing homes is not as typical as it was several decades ago, but it has not been completely retired. Some nursing homes still use this type of equipment because it is legal under certain circumstances. Under the law, restrictions may be applied to nursing home residents only by a licensed doctor authorized in writing following State law. The license must clarify why the restriction is used, how long it will be used and how it is used. Although the regulations are tough, numerous nursing homes are still just going to strap patients to beds. A personal injury attorney in OKC can help nursing home patients by defending them against this practice. 

Restrictions are legally regarded as medical devices, and it makes sense, therefore, to be able to use or authorize use of restraints only by people with the necessary medical training such as a doctor. Moreover, before applying any bindings to the patient, the staff of a senior home shall be informed of the consent of a resident. You have to inform the patient why the restrictions are needed, the benefits of the restrictions and the risks. If a resident in the nursing home cannot make a medical decision, then the patient's family member should be the person from whom the personnel obtains consent.

When ‘restrains’ are not permitted on the elderly:

For certain reasons, staff are not allowed to use physical constraints on residents:

  • For controlling the patients.

  • As a punishment or for a disciplinary purpose.

  • For the convenience of the staff.

  • As an alternative to treatment.

How Are People in Nursing Homes Restrained?

As stated above, the physical constraints used in nursing homes are lawfully regarded as medical devices and are affected by the same rules. This can include these types of restraint – hand mitts, arm restraints, vests, soft ties, bedrails, hook and loop fasteners, lap trays, wheelchair belts, leg restraints, and many others.

How Is It Harmful?

Although some caregivers who use restrictions on nursing home residents can try to justify their actions by saying that this is for their good, the physical constraints used have been demonstrated to present a risk of injury. When seniors are physically restrained, they are at higher risk of infection and injury. A resident who is restricted to the bed or the chair may suffer from stiffness, declining bone density, constipation and incontinence due to their lack of mobility via muscle atrophy.

Restricted patients also face the risk of emotional and psychological trauma. If someone has long been restrained and immobile, he may develop feelings of anxiety and depression. The loss of dignity caused by immobility can worsen other ongoing conditions that a nursing home may face. One should raise a voice against unlawful uses of restraints with the help of a personal injury attorney in OKC.

Lawsuits for Abuse in Nursing Homes

If the resident of a nursing home is restricted without meeting the criteria described above, heavy damage may occur. Fortunately, damage can be compensated by a legal action through a claim to abuse in nursing homes. If a nursing home has restricted an elderly patient and their restrictions result in injuries, a plaintiff can hold a party responsible for its harmful actions, such as a nursing home.

Come to Handley Law Center and learn about the law and how it can protect your loved one from illegally used restraints in the nursing homes. Get advice from our personal injury attorney in OKC and take action.

** Disclaimer: This blog article is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.