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Is It Appropriate To Use Physical Restraints On Elderly Patients In Nursing Homes?

Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd.
Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd.

March 23, 2014

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Imagining your elderly loved one secured by physical restraints is probably enough to bring tears to your eyes. Nursing home care facilities do this, some more than others. Nationally, and in Illinois, it is legal to use physical restraints to further a patient’s safety and protection, yet it is illegal to do so for disciplinary reasons or for the staff’s convenience. Sometimes the lines are crossed. Many of our residential care seniors experience being strapped to a chair or bed and physically restrained from moving. Over a quarter of U.S. nursing home patients, yes that’s right at least 25%, have been restrained at least once.

Now don’t get us wrong, physical restraints can become necessary— in limited circumstances—for the safety of an elderly patient. Elderly patients may injure themselves if especially prone to falling, wandering, pulling out medical devices, and/or violent outbursts. But along with the risks associated with not being restrained one must be knowledgeable about the risk associated with being restrained.

It is crucial to be watchful if a nursing home facility is using physical restraints on your loved one. Restraints will likely lead to physical and emotional deterioration. Studies have also shown increases of other injuries when an elderly patient is restrained. Risks include death by strangulation, pressure ulcers (bed sores), incontinence, agitation, fall injuries, and significant emotional distress.

To lessen the reliance on physical restraints some homes have reduced patient mobility through the increase of drug usage, i.e. “chemical restraints.” Drug-induced states of sleep and drug-induced immobility are dangerous to your loved one. Additionally such use of “chemical restraints” is a grave violation a patient’s rights.

Your loved one’s safety and dignity are important to us at Walner & Associates. Physical and chemical methods of restraint on elderly patients are hazardous. Victims of illegal use of restraints at risk, physically and emotionally. Call a Chicago nursing home abuse attorney today to answer any questions, before it’s too late.

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