Physically Restraining Nursing Home Residents Can Be a Form of AbusePhysical restraints are found in many nursing homes in Alabama. There are certain times when restraints are used for the safety of the patient and the staff. However, there is an increasing concern about restraints being used too often, making it an unethical practice leading to a form of abuse.

A physical restraint is a device which prevents the resident from accessing their own body and surroundings. The types of restraints used by nursing homes may include:

  • Belts
  • Vests
  • Soft ties
  • Hand mitts
  • Specialized chairs
  • Lap cushions
  • Lap trays or tables
  • Bedrails

Restraints are only supposed to be used in extreme cases, such as if the resident is a threat to him/herself or another patient.

When is physical restraint prohibited?

Nursing home staff is not permitted to physically restrain a resident for any of the following reasons:

  • To have control over the resident
  • To discipline or punish the resident
  • To substitute as treatment for the resident
  • To make caring for the resident more convenient for the staff member

The ethical dilemma of nursing home restraints

The question of whether or not restraints should be used in nursing homes now centers around ethics. Many argue that restraints are needed to keep patients safe from themselves and to prevent injuries to staff members.

However, research has shown that restraints do not reduce the risk of residents suffering injuries. In fact, restraints lead to increased physical and emotional injuries. Nursing home residents who are restrained are more at risk of suffering infections, bedsores, and strangulation. The longer a resident is restrained, the likelier it is that he or she suffers malnutrition, loss of bone mass, loss of muscle tone, constipation, incontinence, and issues with mobility.

Informed consent is a must

Nursing home staff cannot use restraints without consent. The staff must tell the resident that restraints are going to be used, the reason why, the benefits of the restraints, and the possible risks associated with them. If the patient does not consent, the restraints cannot be used. If the patient is not of sound mind to consent, the staff must present its case to a competent family member for consent.

However, these rules do not apply in emergency situations. And many nursing homes act as though every situation is an emergency situation. They resort to restraining patients physically (and often chemically) to keep them still and compliant. When they do, it is an act of abuse.

The Alabama nursing home abuse lawyers of Mezrano Law Firm know how difficult it is to make the decision to move a loved one into a nursing home. Doing so and then finding out your loved one has been abused is heartbreaking. We will always fight for your loved one’s rights. Call us today at 205-206-6300 or complete a contact form online to schedule a free case evaluation. We operate offices in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Mobile, Montgomery, Florence, and Gadsden to better serve clients throughout Alabama.