Nursing Home Facilities and Caregiver Protocol Are Regulated by Federal and State Laws
Nursing homes must comply with federal, state, and local laws that require them to provide adequate and appropriate care for their residents. Additionally, when we place a loved one in a nursing home we hope that the staff will abide by unwritten ethical guidelines in handling patients to ensure that quality of life is maintained and that patient needs are being appropriately met. One particular action that sometimes falls into an ethical gray area is using restraints on nursing home patients.
For many years, using restraints was seen as a way to protect certain patients from injuring themselves, other residents, or members of the staff. However, it is possible for nursing homes to overuse restraints or use them in the wrong circumstances to cover up poor staffing, lack of staff training, and/or lack of appropriate patient care protocol. In such cases, restraints can actually be harmful to the resident and a nursing home might be liable for compensation.
Nursing homes tend to use two different types of restraints with patients: physical or chemical. Physical restraints are traditional restraints that are attached to a bed or chair and prevent a patient from moving from the position in which they have been restrained. Chemical restraints usually consist of strong medication administered to reduce mobility in an individual patient. While there may be a time and place for each type of restraint, improper use of either method of restraint can have severe consequences.
When Might Restraints be Appropriate?
Massachusetts law dictates that restraints of any kind may only be used as per the order of a medical professional. The order must specify the type of restraint, which is limited to two hours of use unless a physician says otherwise. Patients must be checked every hour during the period of restraint, and restraints must only be used in a manner that will not injure the patient.
What are Some Effects and Warning Signs of Improper Use of Restraints?
It is important to remember that improper use of restraints, including overusing them, can have significant negative effects on a nursing home resident. Improper placement of restraint can result in severe injuries including:
- Internal bleeding;
- Sexual Assault
- Bed sores;
- Decreased mobility;
- Bruising and injuries to parts of the body such as the head; and
- Death by strangulation, among others.
Not only can improper use of restraints result in physical injury, but it can also cause emotional injury, too. Emotional consequences can include:
- Agitation and anxiety; and
- Decreased cognitive function, among others.
Many of these injuries can be serious or potentially fatal, and nursing home staff must be properly trained in how and when to use restraints appropriately.
When Might a Nursing Home be Liable for Improper Use of Restraints?
There are many details in state law that dictate how restraints may be used, and a nursing home that restrains a patient in violation of these laws could be liable for providing compensation for doing so. Additionally, Massachusetts law states that all nursing home employees are mandated reporters in the state. Therefore, it is their legal responsibility to report all forms of abuse, including overuse or improper use of restraints. When these guidelines are not followed, the nursing home could be liable for providing compensation if your loved one has been injured by the improper use of restraints. Generally, elder abuse in nursing home requires investigating several different aspects of care at the nursing home in general and as it relates to your specific complaint.
Boston Elder Abuse Attorneys for Victims of Improper Use of Restraints
If you believe a loved one has been the victim of improper restraint use in a nursing home facility, contact our law firm to schedule your free legal consultation where you can find out more information about circumstances where a nursing home could be liable.
We offer a free, no-obligation legal consultation to help you understand your rights and the value of your case. Our personal injury law firm takes cases involving elder abuse and neglect. We offer legal service to clients in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
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