Chemical restraints involve the use of any type of drug for the purpose of restricting a person’s movement or freedom. A chemical restraint usually involves either a sedative, an anti-anxiety medication, or an anti-psychotic medication. In a nursing home setting, it’s illegal to use these drugs unless they are medically necessary to treat a specific medical condition or prevent the resident from causing immediate physical harm to themselves or others.
Unfortunately, there are too many nursing homes that use these types of drugs on individuals for whom they are not medically necessary. Instead, it’s done for the convenience of the staff. For example, a dementia patient may have the propensity to wander, but that’s far less likely if they are sedated. The facility will drug the person rather than invest the time and money needed to provide proper supervision of the patient. But that’s a form of nursing home abuse. This can be a confusing matter for the family, especially since facility administrators are unlikely to refer to these drugs as “restraints.”
Recently in Virginia, a family filed a nursing home abuse lawsuit against a facility that had been in charge of caring for an 84-year-old matriarch. According to The Virginian-Pilot, staffers at the nursing home not only bound her to her wheelchair with bed sheets but also injected her with a powerful sedative in order to “silence” her.
The management company for the facility has denied the allegations, but it would not discuss them in detail with the press before trial, which is standard. At this juncture, no one has been criminally charged, and the local police never received a report regarding the incident. However, state health department investigators did launch an inquiry into the allegations and reportedly implemented a “plan of correction” for the facility. Public records indicate this plan involved a number of steps, including requiring additional staff training on how to recognize nursing home abuse and also how to report it. Additionally, the two nurses allegedly involved were singled out for special training on the use of approved restraints and the necessary process for how to administer them.
Meanwhile, the woman’s family alleges in the lawsuit that the administrators of the facility failed to notify the woman’s daughter of what had allegedly occurred. She would never have known, the report indicates, had it not been for an anonymous caller. The elderly patient suffers from a number of cognitive deficits and is reliant on staffers to eat, bathe, and dress. She was reportedly bound to her wheelchair during an overnight shift. When the day shift nurse came on the floor, she noticed the woman tied to her wheelchair, having urinated and defecated on herself. She inquired to the supervising nurse about releasing and cleaning her but was reportedly instructed to “let her sit in it.” Such actions, if proven, violate not only the patient’s civil rights but also the law.
The two nurses who reported the incident to the state were later fired, but the facility insists that was only because the two shared details of the matter on social media. The plaintiffs say the internal review of the incident was only superficial and was hidden from the public and the woman’s family in the hopes of reducing any public scrutiny that may have arisen. The family went so far as to say there was a “cover-up.”
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Lawsuit alleges nurses tied 84-year-old and injected a narcotic sedative at Chesapeake nursing home, Jan. 13, 2017, By Margaret Matray, The Virginian-Pilot
More Blog Entries:
Bigler-Engler v. Berg, Inc. – $13M Injury Lawsuit Verdict Voided, New Trial Ordered Unless Settlement Reached, Jan. 27, 2017, Charlotte Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog