Columbia Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers weigh in on the use of physical restraint of nursing home patients. Residents of long term nursing home facilities typically have physical and cognitive impairments that require close supervision to ensure patient safety.  The protection of the residents is the primary responsibility of the administrators, doctors, nurses, and staff of the nursing home. To reduce the risk of patient injuries from falling or tampering with intravenous lines or medical equipment, a doctor may order physical restraints to be used temporarily. Physical restraints should only be used as a last resort effort to ensure patient safety, and those in restraints should be monitored closely.

Though state and federal lawmakers have been trying to prohibit the use of physical restraints, nursing home facilities in South Carolina continue to use them at a rate that is three times the national average. Restraints come in a variety of designs that include wrist and arm bands that secure patients to bed rails, harness-type restraints that are designed to keep patients upright and secured in a wheelchair, and leg restraints that prevent patients from getting out of bed.  While the idea is to protect the patient, restraints often cause fractures, bruises, skin abrasions, and tears.

State and federal laws prohibit the use of restraints without a doctor’s authorization. The law mandates that the authorization must be re-evaluated and renewed every 24 hours. The family or guardians of the nursing home resident must be notified if restraints are employed, and close supervision by nurses and staff is required when the patient is restrained.

Protecting the State’s Nursing Home Residents

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is responsible for protecting the state’s nursing home residents. They investigate grievances filed by patients and families, and they conduct routine surprise inspections of all facilities. The agency reports about 10 percent of the residents in South Carolina nursing homes are being restrained, sometimes for hours.

In one case, a South Carolina man suffered fatal injuries after he became entangled in the restraints that were meant to protect him. After being restrained in his wheelchair by a harness-styled restraint, the man choked to death when he slid down the chair and the harness restricted his breathing. When the nursing home staff checked on him, they were too late. No one is sure how long he had suffered. The family of the deceased is taking the nursing home to court for negligent death. They are hoping that the lawsuit brings attention to the issue of unnecessary and unsupervised restraint of nursing home patients so that other families do not have to suffer the pain of losing a loved one in the same way.

Columbia Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Advocate for Residents of Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

The Columbia nursing home abuse lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. are staunch advocates for residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  Our firm is committed to protecting the legal rights of these individuals and is dedicated to helping those who have suffered abuse claim the compensation and justice they deserve. Call us at 803-929-3600 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our South Carolina offices serve clients in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the counties of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.