Should nursing homes use physical restraints on patients?  This question has caused a lot of controversy and in many cases the answer is “no.”

Nursing homes sometimes abuse restraints by using them as a convenience or as punishment, which is unacceptable.  Restraints, such as belts, vests, pelvic ties, wrist restraints, lap belts, specialized chairs and bed side rails are frequently used by understaffed nursing homes to better control residents.  Physical restraints should only be used under doctor’s recommendation to help improve the resident’s condition.

Nursing home restraints are sometimes necessary.  For example, a physical restraint may help a confused patient receive essential intravenous fluids or medications.  It can also be used to help a resident sit properly.

When a nursing home resident is physically restrained, it can lead to serious problems.  Residents who have been restrained may suffer injuries, such as broken bones, bedsores, bruises, suffocation and emotional stress.

The American Medical Directors’ Association compiled a list of important questions for families to ask nursing homes regarding the policies on physical restraints.  These questions include the following:

• How does the facility decide when restraints are needed, or decide that less restrictive alternatives are not workable?
• How does a facility determine whether a patient's restraints are still necessary?
• How does the facility know the restraint's doing what it's supposed to do, and watch for complications?
• Does the facility have a restraint reduction program or policy?
• Does the staff help the restrained resident move as much as is practical?

If you discover that your loved one is being unnecessarily restrained by the nursing home, you should contact a nursing home abuse attorney at Gray and White Law at (502) 637-6000 or (800) 637-6033 for a legal consultation.

The article, “Use of Restraints in Nursing Homes,” has more information on this topic.

Matthew L. White
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Founder & Partner of Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm Gray & White Law
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