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Why Do Nursing Homes Use Restraints on Their Residents?

Restraints can take the form of physical restraints, such as straps, belts, bed rails, or other restraining devices on a resident’s bedframe, as well as restraints attached to a wheelchair, such as bars or brakes. Tucking sheets too tightly around a resident in his or her bed even can be used as a physical restraint for those residents who are frail. Chemical restraints, on the other hand, take the form of drugs that are used to sedate residents or keep them asleep for long periods of time. These drugs may include sedatives, antipsychotic medication, and medications used to reduce anxiety. Finally, staff members at nursing homes may use emotional restraints on residents, such as locking residents in their rooms, using electronic surveillance devices, and making threats in order to intimidate residents.

The staff members working at Wisconsin nursing homes sometimes use restraints for perfectly valid reasons. For instance, if a resident is in danger of hurting himself or herself, restraints may be appropriate for at least a limited period of time. A history of constant falls and an inability to supervise a resident for a short period of time also may be a valid reason to use restraints on a resident.

However, in many situations, nursing home staff members may use restraints improperly. Short-staffed facilities may overuse chemical restraints in an attempt to keep patients’ needs to a minimum. Particularly disruptive or unruly patients may cause nursing staff members to keep them sedated or in physical restraints in order to better control them. However, using restraints for these purposes is both unethical and illegal. More specifically, restraints cannot be legally used for the purposes of convenience or discipline. Furthermore, if restraints are not necessary to treat the resident’s medical conditions, then staff members cannot use them.

At Boller & Vaughan, we have investigated countless allegations of nursing home abuse, no matter whether they involve the improper use of restraints or another type of circumstances. Allow us to look into the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, discuss your options, and help you determine the most appropriate course of action for you and your family. Contact the Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorneys of Boller & Vaughan, and learn how we can help.