Chemical Restraints in Nursing Homes

Posted January 15th, 2015 by .

Categories: Personal Injury.

nursing-home-chemical-restraintsIt is a hard enough task to confine a loved one to a nursing home.  Decline often seems inevitable.  However, it is important to be proactive when it comes to the prospect of using chemical restraints in nursing homes.  This can be a form of nursing home abuse.  Know the signs.  Ask questions.  Be an advocate.

New Jersey’s aging population is hitting nursing homes at accelerated rates.  According to a New Jersey Human Services Division report, people aged 60 and over make up almost 20 percent of the state’s population.  Many of these individuals were born during the baby boomer era from 1946-1964.  As the numbers increase, many become candidates for residential care in nursing homes.  New Jersey is considered of the top five states for nursing home care, but that does not mean that it is problem free.

The elderly receive nursing home care for a variety of medical reasons.  Many of these individuals require medication.  However, overmedication can be an issue.  Sometimes nursing homes use medication as a means of restraint.   Sadly, this may be due to understaffing in some facilities.  In some instances, antipsychotic drugs are used for this purpose.  Other drugs may also be used to inhibit or unduly a sedate a loved one.  It is important to know the law concerning chemical restraints.

According to a federal report from the Department of Health and Human Services, there is only one reason to use drugs as a means of controlling a nursing home patient.  Medication may only be used to subdue a client when safety is a critical issue to the patient or others.  Drugs should not be given as a matter of convenience or to discipline a patient.  The nursing home staff is under an obligation to carefully monitor the patient for possible side effects.

Be alert to changes in a loved one who is confined to a nursing home.  Are there reports of combative behavior not previously in existence?  Are they a result of the patient’s condition?  Have you been advised on any events that may indicate the patient’s safety is at risk?

Do not be afraid to ask for a medication list.  Determine the names of the drugs and how often they are dispensed.  Are they a temporary solution?  Is there reason to believe they are unnecessary?

Chemical restraints can be a form of nursing home abuse.  The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone has handled nursing home abuse cases for over 25 years.  If you are concerned about the care you or a loved one is receiving in a nursing home facility, please contact our office.

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