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Can a Patient be Restrained in a Nursing Home?

A person who is at a risk to themselves or others may struggle to remain safe. In these situations, a family member may want the resident restrained to limit their ability to cause harm. Yet, there are very specific rules on when restraints can and cannot be used. In many situations, this is a form of abuse and must be treated as such.

If your family member suffered abuse of any type, including being restrained for any length of time, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Let our Georgia nursing home abuse lawyer at Julie A. Rice Attorney at Law & Affiliates, we provide you with guidance on navigating your legal rights in these cases.

What Is Considered a Physical Restraint?

A physical restraint occurs when some method or device is used to prevent a person from moving. There are numerous types of physical restraints that could be found in a nursing home setting. Some examples include:

  • Soft ties and vests
  • Hand mitts
  • Leg restraints
  • Hook and loop fasteners
  • Bed rails
  • Sheets that are fitted too tightly
  • Mattresses with a concave design to them
  • Lap trays
  • Wheelchair belts
  • Positioning devices that limit movement

If any of these devices are used, there must be a medical necessity that is clearly documented. There are certainly times when a person may need to be restrained, but in order to do this, a nursing home must have proper protocols in line.

What Needs to Be Done to Make Restraints Allowable?

If a family member suddenly has restraints keeping them in bed, it can be alarming and likely is not legally in place. Rather, there are various rules that must be met for restraints to be used. That includes:

  • A doctor must provide written orders that demonstrate the need for restraints and when they can be used.
  • A doctor must outline the type of restraints allowable and when.
  • A restraint protocol must be put into place as a part of the resident’s written care plan. This should be communicated along with any other care plan changes with those responsible for the residents.
  • A thorough assessment must be completed before any decisions about restraints can be made. This should include any other type of care that could offer support without limitations.
  • Residents who have such devices in place must be monitored on a continuous basis to ensure their needs are met within the letter of the law.

Restraints can be limiting to quality of life. They can also help to prevent injury or a person from leaving when they cannot be trusted to care for themselves due to mental condition or other factors. Yet, finding the right way to communicate these solutions is essential.

If your family member was put into restraints and it was not done properly, reach out to a nursing home attorney to get the one-on-one help you need to pursue legal action. You also should report these types of violations to the administrator and continuously follow up to protect your family member’s rights to a safe location.