The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 gave all nursing home residents the right to be free from restraints when the restraints are used for disciplinary purposes or for the convenience of the nursing home corporation. Restraints can be either chemical (i.e., medication designed to make the resident passive) or physical. Regardless of the type of restraint sought, they must be ordered by a doctor. Restraints used without a physician's order are illegal.
Chemical restraints are usually antipsychotic drugs that are used by the nursing home to control individuals who suffer from dementia or anxiety. For a nursing home focused primarily on reducing its budget and operating on minimal staff, chemically restrained residents are easier to control and require less care than active residents. In fact, staffing shortages are a leading culprit in explaining why some nursing homes choose to restrain residents.
A physical restraint is usually a device placed next to or around a resident to limit or eliminate movement by the resident. One of the most common examples of a physical restraint is the side rail on the bed. Designed to prevent a resident from falling out of bed, side rails can sometimes do more harm than good. Some of the most common injuries with side rails are falls when an unmonitored resident attempts to crawl over the side rail or asphyxiation when a resident becomes entrapped between the mattress and the side rail. Nursing homes are supposed to evaluate residents for these known dangers and supervise accordingly. When they choose not to, the resident is at great risk for serious injury or death.
If you believe that a loved one may be the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse you should take action quickly and contact us online or call us at 877-460-0248 to set up a free consultation.