Physical Restraints Harm Nursing Home Residents

January 16, 2019 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Physical Restraints Harm Nursing Home Residents

Florida Nursing Home Restraint Injury Lawsuits

Ensuring that the residents of a nursing home are cared for is a surprisingly difficult undertaking for those charged with maintaining their wellbeing. The elderly present a unique set of challenges for caregivers that must cater to a variety of needs that can be unique to each individual resident. Some residents of nursing homes are afflicted with health conditions that may make administering care require more patience and time. Things like Alzheimers, dementia, and other mental health issues that can result in an elder being less compliant with nursing home staff are common in nursing homes. As a result of this lack of compliance caused by conditions like these, many nursing homes have employed the use of restraints in order to make their jobs easier. The issue is that the convenience afforded by these restraints often comes at the expense of the restrained individual's wellbeing.

Nursing Home Restraints and the Law

Restraints used in nursing homes are not nearly as common as they were several decades ago but they are not yet totally out of the picture. There are still nursing homes that will employ this kind of equipment since under certain circumstances it is legal. Under Florida law, restraints may be used on a nursing home resident only with written authorization from a licensed physician permitted by state law and the nursing home. The authorization must clarify why the restraint is being used, how long it will be used, and how it will be used. Despite this stringent regulation's requirements, many nursing homes will strap the more difficult patients to beds. Restraints are legally considered medical devices and as such it makes sense that only someone with the medical training necessary like a doctor should be able to use or authorize restraints in certain situations. In addition to this, the staff of a nursing home has to get a resident's informed consent before they apply any restraints to the patient. They must inform a patient why the restraints are being used, the benefits of the restraints, as well as the risks. If a nursing home resident is unable to make a medical decision, then the family member responsible for the patient would have to be the one the staff gets consent from.

When Physical Restraints Not Allowed to be Used on the Elderly

The staff of a nursing home are absolutely not allowed to use physical restraints on an elderly resident for certain reasons. These reasons include:
  • Punishment or discipline of a patient
  • To control the patient
  • Making the care of a patient more convenient
  • As a substitution for an activity or treatment

How are Nursing Home Residents Physically Restrained?  

As mentioned before, physical restraints used on nursing home residents are legally considered to be medical devices and are affected by the same rules and regulations that apply to such objects and their use. These physical restraints can include but are not limited to the following.
  • Lap trays and wheelchair belts
  • Arm restraints
  • Hand mitts
  • Leg restraints
  • Vests and soft ties
  • Bedrails
  • Hook and loop fasteners on clothing
  • Improvised restraints made from belts, cords, etc.
Restraints can also go beyond straps that tie a patient to a bed. Many elderly residents of neighborhoods have significantly decreased mobility either because of disability or their old age. Sometimes staff may use other methods of restraint such as obstacles like furniture blocking a resident's movement. This, of course, can also count as a form of restraint used against nursing home residents.

How do Restraints Harm Nursing Home Residents?

While some nursing home staff that use restraints on nursing home residents may try to justify their actions by saying it was for the resident's own good, physical restraints used on the elderly have been shown to come with a risk of injury. When nursing home residents are physically restrained they suffer from an increased risk of infection, bed sores, and strangulation. A resident that is restrained by being strapped to a bed or chair will suffer as a result of their lack of mobility via muscle atrophy, a decrease in bone density, stiffness, incontinence, and constipation. Nursing home residents that are restrained also run the risk of suffering emotional and psychological trauma. When someone is restrained and immobile for long periods of time they can develop feelings of anxiety, powerlessness, agitation, and depression. The loss of dignity that comes with being forced into immobility is debilitating, abusive, and can affect other ongoing health conditions that a nursing home may be facing.

Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits

When the resident of a nursing home is restrained without fulfilling the aforementioned criteria, they can suffer significant damage. These damages can thankfully be compensated by taking legal action via a nursing home abuse claim. Nursing home's have a duty to care for their residents and physically restraining them in a way that leads to harm is a behavior that has become all too common. By proving that a nursing home restrained an elderly patient and the act of restraining them lead to their injuries, a plaintiff can hold a liable party like a nursing home accountable for their damaging actions.

Seek an Experienced Florida Elder Abuse Attorney

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury due to the neglect of an assisted living facility, nursing home, or other similar facilities, then do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA about a free consultation on your possible claim. Our skilled lawyers will sit down with you to lay out your options for legal action and how they can use their expertise to secure you the settlement that you deserve. With the lawyers of Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA on your side, you can rest easy knowing that you have a law firm that can back up their claims with a long list of successful cases. Your case will be given the personal attention one would expect from a small firm but will benefit from the resources and reap the results of a large firm. The damages you suffered should not go uncompensated. Consider Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA as your representation in your pursuit to hold those responsible for your injuries accountable for their negligence. For a free consultation on your claim you can contact us online or call (727) 451-6900 Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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