Helping Elderly Victims of Restraint Injuries
When your elderly loved one registered with a nursing home, you expected that s/he would receive proper treatment and respect, and that s/he would be able to live out his/her latter days in peace and comfort. However, lately you’ve noticed that your elderly loved one seems unhappy, even distant. There are also worrying signs of physical abuse on his/her body. You suspect that the nursing home staff is not helping your loved one, but hurting him/her, which is inexcusable. A lot of questions are running through your mind, including:
- How can I know for certain whether my elderly loved one is being abused?
- How can I secure him/her a safer environment?
- How can I bring the nursing home to justice?
At Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP, our compassionate Dallas nursing home abuse lawyers have represented several cases like yours. We can help you pursue legal action against the nursing home and will get your elderly loved one better care. For a free, comprehensive consultation, call (214) 231-0555.
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What Are the Common Effects of Physical Restraints?
According to the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN), the use of physical restraints – belts, vests, ties, bedrails, specialized chairs, and so on – on nursing home residents typically results in negative outcomes, including the following:
- Broken bones, sprains, and other injuries
- Cardiovascular distress
- Muscle atrophy
- Social isolation
- Loss of self esteem
- Decreased peripheral circulation
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What Are the Negative Impacts of Chemical Restraints?
An elderly patient can also be restrained through chemical means. Common types of chemical restraints include mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, anxiety medication, anti-depressants, and pain killers. While these chemicals can be used to treat a wide variety of physical and mental conditions, nursing home staff may illegally abuse them in hopes of sedating a “troublesome” patient. The common effects of chemical abuse of elderly patients include exhaustion, lethargy, and severe mood swings.
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How Does Texas Law Treat the Use of Restraints on Elderly Patients?
According to Texas Human Resources Code Section 102.003(c): “An elderly individual has the right to be free from physical and mental abuse, including corporal punishment or physical or chemical restraints that are administered for the purpose of discipline or convenience and not required to treat the individual’s medical symptoms. A person providing services may use physical or chemical restraints only if the use is authorized in writing by a physician or the use is necessary in an emergency to protect the elderly individual or others from injury.”
When is it acceptable to use restraints in a nursing home?
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has outlined rules regarding the use of restraints in skilled nursing facilities. Among residents’ rights is the freedom from any physical or chemical restraint used for the purposes of punishment or as a substitute for patient care. Restraints are permitted only in limited circumstances such as a medical emergency, or when residents are at great risk for injuring themselves or others.
Federal and state laws have strict language regarding the legal use of physical and chemical restraints in long-term care facilities. If your elder loved one has been unlawfully physically or chemically restrained, contact our Dallas nursing home restraint injury attorneys to discuss your legal options.
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How are nursing home residents physically restrained?
Physical restraints include all kinds of equipment, devices, and methods used to restrict the resident’s mobility. Some of the more common restraints include:
- Lap trays
- Arm and leg restraints
- Hand mitts
- Limb ties
- Wheelchair locks
- Fasteners on clothing
- Tucking in sheets too tightly
Physical and chemical restraints in nursing homes can leave residents feeling imprisoned, anxious and depressed. The loss of mobility can increase the risk for bed sores, infections, loss of muscle mass, and falls. Our Dallas nursing home abuse lawyers can prove if physical restraints were used as a form of discipline, control, or to substitute for inadequate staffing.
Types of chemical restraints in nursing homes
Medications are sometimes used in nursing home facilities to subdue patients exhibiting unruly or aggressive behavior. In this context, these drugs are considered chemical restraints as they are administered for the sole purpose of making residents easier to control.
Benzodiazepines and antipsychotics are effective for controlling agitation and sedating patients, but these medications come with a risk of severe side effects. Some drugs will cause a drop in blood pressure, raising the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other health complications. Over-drugged residents may not think clearly and exhibit less interest in personal hygiene and general self-care.
According to federal law, psychotropic drugs must be ordered by the resident’s doctor, and may not be used for convenience or discipline. The practice of using sedative or antipsychotic drugs to quell agitated or troublesome residents is unlawful and can result in litigation when injury results. Our attorneys are committed to helping victims of restraint injuries and nursing home physical abuse. Reach out today to discuss your options for filing a restraint injury lawsuit in Texas.
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What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Dallas Nursing Home Restraint Injury Case?
If the nursing home unlawfully used physical or chemical restraints to subdue your elderly loved one for the sake of convenience or some other negligent or malicious purpose, s/he may be entitled to compensation for the following damages:
- Physical and mental pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Cost of necessary medical treatment
- Punitive damages, if the abuse was egregious
A dedicated and trial-ready personal injury lawyer will be key to recover any damages your loved one is entitled to.
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Contact a Dallas Nursing Home Restraint Injury Lawyer Today to Learn More
If you would like to discuss the specific details of your claim with one of our dedicated Dallas personal injury lawyers, please don’t hesitate to call our office for immediate assistance. You may also fill out and submit an online contact form and we’ll get back to you shortly.
- Use of Physical Restraint in Nursing Homes: Clinical‐Ethical Considerations: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2564468/
- Freedom from Restraints – Medicare: https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/what-part-a-covers/skilled-nursing-facility-rights