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IMPROPER RESTRAINTS ON NURSING HOME RESIDENTS

MINNESOTA NURSING HOME ABUSE ATTORNEY ASSISTING CLIENTS WITH IMPROPER RESTRAINTS & INJURIES

When our elderly loved ones require more care than we can give them, it often means that we need to help find a quality nursing home that can administer medications, provide assistance with daily tasks, and perform other caregiving duties. However, nursing home abuse and neglect happens much too often in the Twin Cities and throughout the state of Minnesota. One form that nursing home abuse can take is the use of improper restraints. While there are both state and federal laws in place to protect nursing home residents from abuse, cases of elder abuse and neglect occur much more often than most of us would like to believe.

When an elderly person residing in a skilled nursing facility in Minneapolis or St. Paul sustains injuries as a result of improper physical restraints, that patient may be able to file a claim to seek compensation. An aggressive nursing home abuse attorney in MN can get started on your case today.

WHAT ARE PHYSICAL & CHEMICAL RESTRAINTS IN A MINNESOTA NURSING HOME?

In order to understand how the use of improper restraints can constitute nursing home abuse, it is essential to learn more about the use of physical and chemical restraints in the nursing home setting. As an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, a physical restraint typically is defined as a device or equipment attached to a person which can’t be removed and that prevents the person’s free body movement.

Examples of physical restraints can include the following:

  • Vests;
  • Straps or ties;
  • Wheelchair bars or brakes;
  • Chairs designed to tip backwards;
  • Bedding that tucks in tightly; and
  • Bedside rails.

In many situations when we talk about restraints, we are also talking chemical restraints, which are medications that are administered in order to manage nursing home patients. The most common examples of chemical restraints include but are not limited to:

  • Sedatives;
  • Antipsychotic medications (including off-label use); and
  • Anxiolytic drugs, including benzodiazepines.

EFFECTS OF IMPROPER RESTRAINTS ON NURSING HOME PATIENTS

There are many potentially harmful effects of physical and chemical restraints, including but not limited to:

  • Physical restraints can cause pain to nursing home residents;
  • Physical restraints can lessen a patient’s physical abilities and can lead to the weakening of muscles;
  • Physical restraints that result in weakened muscles can hinder a resident’s ability to walk;
  • Physical and chemical restraints can increase a patient’s likelihood of developing psychological problems and may constitute emotional abuse as well as physical abuse; and
  • Chemical restraints can limit a resident’s ability to speak up about symptoms of abuse.

As the Journal of Medical Ethics article explains, “in caring for older people it is sometimes necessary to carry out actions that limit their freedom of movement,” and in many cases “this is done for reasons of good care.” When does the use of physical or chemical restraints become an improper use that rises to the level of nursing home abuse?

NURSING HOME PATIENT RIGHTS & FREEDOMS

Nursing home residents have rights and freedoms under both federal and state law. In many cases, the right to be free from restraints is violated when either physical or chemical restraints are used unnecessarily on a patient. In terms of federal law, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) explains that patients have the right to freedom from restraints. Under federal law, physical restraints are anything that “prevent freedom of movement or normal access to one’s own body.” Chemical restraints, according to CMS, are drugs that are “used for discipline or convenience,” and that are not needed to treat a patient’s medical symptoms.

It defines this right to freedom from restraints as being against the law for a nursing facility to use physical or chemical restraints unless it’s necessary to treat medical symptoms. This means that restraints can’t be utilized to punish or simply for convenience, and you have the right to refuse restraints unless you are at risk of harming someone.

How about under Minnesota state law? Under the Minnesota Health Care Bill of Rights, improper restraints are discussed in terms of a patient’s right to “freedom from maltreatment.” Specifically, the law mentions that chemical and physical restraints shouldn’t be sued except when necessary to protect the resident from self-injury or injury to others.

MINNESOTA LAW & RESTRAINT REQUIREMENTS

In order for the use of restraints to be lawful in Minnesota, a nursing home that uses a restraint must do the following:

  • Document that proper procedures have been followed;
  • Monitor the use of the restraint; and
  • Reevaluate the resident’s need for restraint in consultation with the resident, the resident’s family, and the attending physician.

A nursing home clearly can be subject to a violation if:

  • Restraint jeopardized the health and safety of the resident; and
  • Nursing home failed to take reasonable measures to protect the resident’s health and safety.

NURSING HOME PATIENTS INJURED BY IMPROPER RESTRAINTS

Both physical and chemical restraints can be extremely harmful to nursing home residents in Minnesota, and restraints should only be used when they are necessary to prevent harm and to ensure the patient’s own health and safety. Other uses of restraints may be improper, and the resident may be able to file a nursing home abuse claim.

CONTACT AN MN NURSING HOME ABUSE ATTORNEY ABOUT YOUR CASE

If you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home in Minnesota, it is important to be vigilant about any signs or symptoms that could point toward the use of improper restraints. Physical signs, and well as emotional symptoms, may indicate that your loved one has been the victim of improper restraints. An experienced Minnesota nursing home abuse lawyer can help with your case. Contact Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm LLC to learn more about the services we provide to nursing home residents and their families.

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