Nursing Home Injuries: The Unnecessary Use of Restraints

Nursing Home Injuries: The Unnecessary Use of Restraints

Making the decision that it’s time to find a nursing home for your elderly relative is always difficult. Once you’ve put in the time, effort, and emotion to find a residence that’s a good fit for your loved one, it’s extremely heartbreaking to learn that your relative has suffered an injury while in that nursing home’s care. When the unnecessary use of restraints caused that injury, it’s that much more gut-wrenching. Your relative’s rights and humanity matter too much not to fight for just legal compensation.

Restraints in a Nursing Home?

Sometimes nursing homes resort to using restraints for a resident’s own safety—or for the safety of other residents and staff. Restraints should, obviously, always serve as a last resort. Physical restraints are devices or equipment that restrict freedom of movement and that the resident can’t easily remove. Nursing homes should never take the use of restraints lightly.

The use of physical restraints is often relative to the specific resident. For example, if a resident needs a bedrail to keep from falling out of bed and becoming injured, that bedrail isn’t a restraint but a safety device. If the bedrail intends to stop a resident from leaving the bed (because the resident is unable to maneuver past the bedrail), then that bedrail is a physical restraint. This complicates the issue of restraints, but it’s also critical to ensuring that nursing home residents receive humane care.

If your loved one suffered a nursing home injury caused by the unnecessary use of restraints, you need experienced legal counsel. Nursing home injuries are serious, and the unnecessary use of restraints can traumatize your loved one. Your loved one—and every nursing home resident—deserves humane treatment and care, which includes not using restraints unnecessarily.

At the Hughey Law Firm in Charleston, South Carolina, we understand these cases are heartbreaking, and we’re here to help. Our dedicated personal injury attorneys have the experience, skill, and compassion to aggressively advocate for your loved one’s rights and rightful compensation.

Federal Rights

Federal laws protect the rights of residents of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), which are also known as nursing homes. First, the nursing home must provide residents with written statements that outline the residents’ rights. Every nursing home resident has specific guaranteed protections:

  • Freedom from discrimination;
  • The right to treatment with dignity and respect;
  • Freedom from abuse and neglect;
  • Freedom from restraints;
  • The right to medical care;
  • The right to privacy; and
  • The right to visitors.

Freedom from Restraints

A nursing home resident’s right to freedom from restraints includes physical restraints and chemical restraints, which are drugs used for either discipline or convenience and that aren’t medically necessary. SNFs are federally restricted from using physical or chemical restraints at any time unless it’s necessary for treating a resident’s medical symptoms. SNFs may not use them to punish residents or for the convenience of the staff. Residents have the right to refuse the use of restraints unless the residents are considered at risk of harming either themselves or others.

South Carolina’s Laws

In South Carolina, the law mandates that every nursing home resident “must be free from mental and physical abuse and free from chemical and physical restraints except those restraints ordered by a physician.” This means that unless your loved one’s physician—whom you’ve no doubt worked with to obtain optimal care for your elderly relative—prescribes either a physical or chemical restraint, the nursing home should not restrain your relative. If you suspect otherwise, seek experienced legal counsel.


The American Academy of Nursing reports that the use of restraints causes more problems than it solves. Physical restraints are most often implemented when a resident experiences a change in medical status or exhibits a behavioral expression of distress. Such situations, however, require expert assessment and attention—not physical or chemical restraint. Furthermore, quality care necessitates a multidisciplinary approach that anticipates, identifies, and addresses issues before the use of restraints becomes necessary. In fact, family members—because they have more personal knowledge of and experience with their relatives—should play a critical role in the process of providing more personalized care.

Alternatives to Restraint

Before applying restraints, nursing homes should consider and implement a variety of alternative approaches (where applicable):

  • Supervising residential areas more frequently and closely
  • Basing rest periods on each resident’s individualized needs
  • Implementing toileting schedules based on individualized needs
  • Continually assessing the residential environment for necessary modifications
  • Keeping personal items within each resident’s reach
  • Maintaining appropriate and individualized seating and beds for every resident
  • Providing adequate occupational and physical therapy

Nursing home care should individualize care to focus on the needs of each unique resident. If your loved one, instead, suffers a nursing home injury that’s caused by the unnecessary use of restraints, the nursing home has violated your loved one’s rights and basic human dignity—and you need experienced legal guidance.

If Your Loved One Suffered a Nursing Home Injury, Contact a Charleston Personal Injury Attorney

If your loved one suffered a nursing home injury that the unnecessary use of restraints caused, you are no doubt devastated. After all, you trusted the nursing home to keep your elderly relative safe, healthy, and socially active. Then the nursing home inflicted injuries on your loved one.

Your loved one’s rights matter too much not to fight for legal compensation. At the Hughey Law Firm in Charleston, South Carolina, we have seen the difficulties that these claims create. Our dedicated personal injury attorneys are committed to aggressively advocating for the rights and rightful compensation of those in need, such as nursing home residents. We’re here to help, so please contact or call us at (843) 881-8644 today.

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