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Elder AbuseMedication ErrorPrescription Medication MisusePsychotropic Drugs

Chemical Restraints in Nursing Homes

By Walton Law APCMarch 19, 2021March 4th, 2023No Comments

Many nursing home residents depend on the assistance of staff to help administer their medication. This is a very important aspect of their lives because medication can be needed to help manage existing health conditions and to ensure that the residents can maintain healthy lives. However, there are times when nursing homes improperly use medication as a chemical restraint.

What is a Chemical Restraint?

Thankfully, most nursing homes would never consider using a physical restraint. However, many institutions do indeed use chemical restraints in the form of psychotropic drugs. These drugs can impact the resident’s thoughts, physical responses, and general behavior.

Side Effects

The medication can work as a sedative to calm a disturbed or agitated person and can lead to side effects, including the following:

  • Extreme sedation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Loss of memory
  • Increased risk of falling
  • Dry mouth

The Law and Chemical Restraints

Anti-anxiety meds, sedatives and antipsychotics can legitimately help certain patients. Medicare and Medicaid authorize the use of some drugs to decrease the effects of mental illness. However, federal law prohibits the administering of chemical restraints on nursing home residents for the purpose of discipline or convenience and not medical need.

How Nursing Homes Use Chemical Restraints

That hasn’t stopped some nursing home staff and administrators from using chemical restraints on residents to calm them down, making them more docile and easier to manage. They also use them on residents who have dementia, despite the health risks of doing this. Some of the health risks are an increase for the risk of strokes, diabetes, and even possible death. When a chemical restraint is used to discipline an active and alert individual, the impact on that person can transform them into someone who is sluggish and can’t perform everyday activities like brushing their teeth, dressing, or even social interactions, like holding a conversation.

Although staff at nursing homes are supposed to get informed consent before administering medication, in many cases, they are providing chemical restraints without permission. Every facility should have a record of the medications for each resident on file. If you are concerned about your loved one being a victim of chemical restraints, you can start by requesting this list and monitoring it. You can also watch for the signs of the side effects listed above and keep track of your loved one’s physical appearance and demeanor.

Shield your Loved One from Chemical Restraints in their Nursing Home

When your loved one has become a resident in a nursing home, you have faith in the facility and trust that they will do right by your relative. However, if they are using chemical restraints, you have to take action to protect them. If you believe this is going on, you must investigate and pursue legal action if necessary. You can discuss this with an attorney knowledgeable about nursing home law. Walton Law attorneys are highly skilled in this specialized field and can direct you. Contact us right away to get started.

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