Physical or Chemical Restraints – Connecticut Injury Lawyers
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Physical or Chemical Restraints

Physical and chemical restraints should only have use in nursing homes at the recommendation of a doctor. They should not be used to make a staff member’s job easier. Unfortunately, sometimes staff members use this in an attempt to lighten their loads. Understanding the difference between necessary and unnecessary restraint is important. It will help you make sure that your loved one does not face neglect or abuse in a nursing home. The first step in preventing any unwanted restraint is to first know what and how each device is used.

Physical Restraint

A physical restraint is any device, equipment, or material that limits a person’s mobility. It cannot be removed or controlled easily by the person. The types include:

  • Vests.
  • Straps/belts.
  • Limb ties.
  • Bars.
  • Rails.
  • Any object used to restrict the resident.

Something as simple as sheets getting tucked in too tightly might constitute physical restraint. The use of physical restraints on elder adults can have consequences. Common consequences are bruises, loss of muscle strength, and balance. Other consequences are increased agitation, strangulation, fractures, respiratory complications, and head trauma. A lot of these injuries may happen by the residents themselves. This happens when residents try to escape from the restraints. If your loved one feels uncomfortable with any of these physical restraint examples, consider this a red flag. Your loved one might be the victim of abuse.


Some elder residents like having some restraints such as bedside rails. They like knowing that if they roll over during the night, there is no chance of falling off of the bed. But, other forms of physical restraints can have a negative effect on the residents. They feel imprisoned and this can lead to them feeling shame and the idea that this is the end of their life. To prevent an injury, you must first think about your elder one’s wellbeing. Do not let any nursing home put any sort of physical restraints on your loved one without your consent. There are many alternatives to restraints. They include hip protectors, walking aids, floor covering, nutrition/diet management, and strength exercises.

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Chemical Restraints

The other type of restraint used in nursing homes is chemical. This is not used as frequently as physical restraints, but it is definitely something to look out for. A chemical restraint is any type of drug that restricts a person’s movement or freedom. It is illegal for a home to administer a chemical restraint without the consent of a doctor. These restraints include sedatives. The FDA has not approved any drugs as chemical restraints.

Laws are strict in restricting the use of this type of restraint on individuals. It is illegal to use chemicals to restrain residents for convenience and discipline purposes. Even with a doctor’s permission, a resident may refuse chemical restraints. If you believe that your loved one was chemically restrained without their consent, alert someone. Any order of a chemical restraint must be outlined on the resident’s medical record. If a drug is administered in an emergency, the primary physician should receive a notification.

Some types of restraints are unethical. It is up to you and your family to decide what orders from the doctor are best for your loved one. Your loved one has the right to decide what types of restraints should be used on them. Under no circumstances can a chemical restraint be used without consent or a doctor’s order. Restraints may only be placed on a resident as a last resort. Steps should be taken to ensure that there is no other way to keep your loved one safe then to restrain them. You want your loved one to be comfortable in the nursing home of your choosing so do what you think is best for your elder. If you have any questions about physical or chemical restraints, contact an attorney.


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