Use of Restraints on Residents in Nursing Homes

Restraints on residents and nursing homes can occur in a wide variety of ways in West Virginia. There are various types of restraints that could be used against a nursing home resident, including tethering someone to a fixed location, physically holding individuals down, and the use of chemical restraints in the form of medications.

Restraints on nursing home residents are almost always prohibited. The use of restraints can lead to significant injuries and even fatalities. Here, we want to review why restraints still may be used inside nursing homes and what recourse victims and families may have.

What is a Restraint in a Nursing Home

There should never be a restraint used on a resident in a nursing home. Decades ago, before there were strict rights and regulations in place to protect nursing home residents, the argument was made that restraints were used for the patient’s safety. However, most lawmakers have agreed with physicians that restraints are dangerous and that the risks of using them outweigh the limited benefits.

Federal and state laws both prohibit the use of restraints when it is unnecessary to use them. The only time the law allows for restraints to be used is when there is an emergency, and even then, they must obtain consent in order to do so. Nursing home residents have the right to be free from any unnecessary restraints. This includes freedom from physical restraints and chemical restraints.

Physical Restraints

Physical restraints are actual restraints used to hold down a patient. Often, this includes restraining the arms or legs but can include restraining the torso. Physical restraints can also include hand mitts, soft ties, full body restraints, or any other device that forces a resident to remain in one position and prevents them from freely moving.

Objects inside of a room could also be considered a restraint, depending on their placement. For example, locking an immobile patient’s wheelchair to a certain area could also be considered a restraint because it prevents the patient from moving anywhere. Using objects to block a patient’s access to certain areas can also be considered a physical restraint.

Chemical Restraints

Chemical restraints do not use physical force, but they use medications. These medications are meant to subdue, sedate, or control the behavior of a patient. Chemical restraints are often necessary to protect a nursing home resident during a medical procedure, or some other type of crisis, but the use of any medications to control a patient without it being medically necessary is illegal.

Some of the most common types of medications used to chemically restrain a patient include psychoactive drugs if they are not used to treat depression, PTSD, anxiety, or schizophrenia.

Contact an Attorney

If you or somebody you love has been physically or chemically restrained by nursing home staff members, we encourage you to reach out to a skilled nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible. The use of restraints may have been illegal, and an attorney can help determine the best steps moving forward. If you were illegally restrained, you may be able to recover various types of compensation for your losses. This includes compensation for medical bills associated with the restraint usage, physical and emotional pain and suffering damages, and more.


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