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Nursing Home Restraint

There are hundreds of nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Seattle, Kirkland, Olympia, Bellingham and throughout the State of Washington. While many of these facilities are perfectly fine and go years without incidents, on occasion there are issues at these facilities that lead to elderly loved ones being hurt.

One way that nursing homes and assisted living facilities injure their elderly residents is by restraining them unnecessarily. While restraining an elderly person may seem unthinkable to some, unfortunately it happens all too often. If an elderly resident is restrained, the nursing home has to have a compelling and legal reason to do so. If they don’t, they can be held liable for the injuries the elderly resident might suffer at the nursing home or assisted living facility.

Types of Restraints in Nursing Homes: Chemical vs. Physical

While there are times when restraining an elderly person is necessary in a nursing home or assisted living facility, it is very rare. In 1987, a federal law was passed that made it illegal to restrain someone unless there was an exceptional medical emergency. Restraints, it should be noted, does not just include being strapped to the bed, as in a physical way, but it can also mean being restrained by unnecessary drugs or sedatives. It is unquestionably and legally considered abuse if there is no medical reason to restrain someone and that elderly nursing home resident is restrained anyway.

It is important to understand that there are two kinds of restrains: physical and chemical. A chemical restraint would be a sedative or medication that would put someone under. Unless the elderly resident’s attending physician orders the person to be prescribed medication, then the nursing home or assisted living facility should not be administering any drugs.

Period. However, in reality, there have been cases where the nursing home has administered very serious and heavy chemical drugs to sedate elderly residents because it is easier to sedate a person than have to tend to their needs and care for them.

This is particularly true in nursing home and assisted living facilities where they are severely understaffed. A common form of chemical restraint could be, for example, valium or morphine if it is administered in a sufficiently high enough quantity that it simply knocks someone out and renders them unconscious.

A physical restraint could be any kind of physical impediment such as a chain, a rope, a strap, a vest, basically anything that forcibly confines someone to a bed or wheelchair against the will. Regardless whether the restraint is physical or chemical, in Washington State, the elderly have the right to be advised of whether restraint is right for them and be free of such restraints if it is not.

Signs of Unlawful Nursing Home Restraint

Elderly nursing home residents are of course more vulnerable and more susceptible to being restrained than people who are not in such facilities. If you visit a loved one, parent, or relative at a nursing home or assisted living facility and notice one or more of the following, you will know there has been an improper use of a restraint:

  • Cuts
  • Bruises
  • Lacerations
  • Broken bones
  • Fractured bones
  • Welts or red marks on the skin

If you notice these on your elderly loved one, you need to immediately inform the management of the nursing home, inform the department of health and human services, the better business bureau, and the Jackman Law Firm so we can help you during your time of need. Those are the signs for an elderly person who has been physically restrained. If your loved one has suffered mental or psychological restraints, some of the signs or symptoms of this are an unfocused gaze, confusion, grogginess, a lack of memory, or any indication of mental impairment that is not part of the elderly person’s normal character.

Any and all of these signs can be indicators of restrains that are improper.

Washington State Nursing Home Restraint Laws

If a loved one who is in a nursing home or assisted living facility has been restrained physically, and if you can prove that this restraint was unlawful, then you can bring a claim against the nursing home or assisted living facility for negligence. In a negligence case you must be able to show that the nursing home owed the elderly resident a duty of care, which was then breached, and that the elderly suffered an injury from this breach.

For example, if you discovered that your elderly loved one was being restrained by ropes and by chemical drugs that were not prescribed by the doctor, then you have a strong argument that the duty of care was breached (since it is not a question that the nursing home has a duty to safely guard the wellbeing of the elderly).

From there, you will need to show that the elderly person actually suffered an injury and that this injury was caused by the restrains wrongfully placed by the nursing home. This injury needs to be clearly separated and distinguished from other physical ailments the elderly person may have.

How The Jackman Law Firm can Help

Winning a negligence case against a nursing home is not always easy. You have to be able to prove that the nursing home acted improperly and that the injuries the elderly person suffered were not pre-existing—i.e. the injuries were not from something else. The Jackman Law Firm has the know-how and resources to help prove your case. We can subpoena the right documents at the right time and interview important witnesses to the case. We can also help you recover money for the following damages your elderly loved one may have suffered:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Out of pocket expenses

Why go through this process alone? Trust on our experience and track record of success. The Jackman Law Firm has the ability to make sure you win your case. The truth is nursing homes have large and powerful insurance companies who insure them, and they will likely do everything possible to deny a recovery. We can help make this process much easier.

Feel free to call for a free consultation.

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