It’s a sad fact that Alzheimer’s patients must sometimes be physically restrained by medical staff. This is a normal practice, made necessary by the increased confusion, aggression and erratic behavior or later stages of the disease.
Even sadder is the fact that nursing home staff sometimes take the practice too far. Although the majority of elder care facilities are caring professionals, a home trying to maximize profits may do so at the expense of the patients. It’s easier on staff to restrain an Alzheimer’s patient than to monitor her safely – and less expensive to run a program on an insufficient crew.
According to a 2006 report by the Alzheimer’s association, the risks of restrains include infections,, immobility-related injuries, reduced physical capacity and increased feelings of agitation and fear. Alzheimer’s victims who struggle against the restraints also risk pulled muscles, abrasions and even broken bones. The toll it takes on dignity is harder to quantify, but no less real or harmful. The FDA reports that restraints “should not be used unless necessary, or when in the patient’s best interest.”
Although nursing homes are a highly regulated industry, the sheer number of patients under their care makes it impossible to catch every irresponsible employee or profit-oriented facility that cuts corners. If you have a loved one under care for Alzheimer’s Disease in a nursing home, it pays to be alert for signs on improper restraint:
- Reports from staff of dangerous behavior that nobody in the family has observed.
- Lack of specific, defined reasons for restraint of a patient.
- No attempts made by staff to reduce the use of restraints over time.
- You believe the negative effects of the restraint is worse than the risks the restraints are intended to avoid.
- Facility staff fails to inform you of the details of the restraint – including reasons, duration and reasonable alternative methods.
Remember that you have the right to refuse any proposed treatment, including medical restraint, from a nursing home. A Michigan State University study found that over 20 percent of elderly patients – including victims of Alzheimer’s – suffer from neglect and abuse in Michigan. That neglect and abuse can include the misuse of restraints on Alzheimer’s patients.
If your family member has suffered from this practice, you have the legal right to hold the facility and its staff accountable for the damage they have done. Our Buckfire team of nursing home abuse lawyers have the experience to help. Call our office now at (800) 606-1717 to discuss your case. We offer free consultation and will represent you under our No Fee Promise, meaning you do not pay any legal fees until we win or settle your case.