Although some professionals argue restraints are necessary to prevent injury in some patients, a Harvard Center for Risk Analysis study estimates as many as 150 deaths annually from improper use of physical and chemical restraints.
This kind of abuse might be nursing home negligence, or outright and intentional harm. In either case, a nursing home lawyer can help identify those responsible and bring them to justice for their actions.
In nursing homes that overuse restraint, the cause is frequently understaffing at the facility. Overworked nursing home staffers lack the time to properly oversee every patient, and can suffer from a condition called compassion fatigue that leads them to abuse or neglect those in their care.
Improper restraint is especially common among patients with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, since their erratic behavior can endanger themselves and others – but all populations in nursing facilities are at risk.
Some signs that your family member might be being restrained improperly include:
- Incident reports justifying the restraint that are unspecific, or list behavior nobody outside the facility has ever seen.
- Discovering a family member has been restrained from the family member, rather than from a prompt report by facility staff.
- Changes in medication, to include adding common chemical restraints such as Lorzepam, Mellaril, Risperdal or Xanax.
- No reduction, or plan to reduce, the use of restraints over time.
- Bedsores resulting from remaining stationary for too long.
- Abrasions or bruises, especially at the ankles, wrists and waist.
Since 2000, Chicago nursing home abuse – including improper use of restraints – has increased at a rate of nearly 4 percent per year. Attention and vigilance by family members is the most effective way to reduce that rate, and to bring those responsible to justice.