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.