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Do Nursing Home Physicians Use Drugs To Control Residents?

Medical science is progressing at an astonishing pace. Every year, there are new medications to treat serious conditions and prevent others entirely. As a result, we're living longer than ever before. But because many ailments only develop over time, our longer lives have an odd side effect.

Medications extend our lifespan, but the older we get, the more medications we need. It's understandable then that prescription drugs are central to the work done in nursing homes.

Medication Errors Happen Every Day In Nursing Homes, read more on this subject here.

Reducing Independence: The Dangers Of Chemical Restraint

In a recent article, we wrote about the misuse of bed rails, which is still common in many elder care facilities. If bed rails are not strictly necessary to prevent falls, they're banned outright. Why? Because they reduce a resident's independence, making it difficult or impossible to get out of bed and walk around. Nursing homes can even be held legally accountable for using restraints when they are not necessary.what is chemical restraint

Nursing homes have a duty to treat patients properly, according to their needs. This isn't surprising; it's common sense. But one of their other duties isn't as self-evident. In addition to treating medical conditions appropriately, a nursing home's staff has a duty to maintain patients' independence as much as possible.

As we noted earlier, effective prescriptions are one of the greatest achievements of modern society. But every drug comes with its own set of risks and dangers, which we usually think of as "side effects."

What Is Chemical Restraint?

Chemical restraint, the deliberate use of a drug to limit a patient's freedom and movement, is another less-familiar danger implicit in prescription medication. Essentially, doctors or nursing home staff may actively "drug" a patient that they deem troublesome.

According to federal law, drugs can only be used for two reasons:

  1. to treat diagnosed medical conditions
  2. to prevent a patient from physically harming someone else or themselves

If nursing home staff use a medication to discipline patients or make their own lives easier, it's illegal.

New York has its own specific set of regulations on chemical restraint:

What Drugs Are Used To Restrain Residents?

Psychotropic drugs, used to treat psychological illnesses, are the most common type used to restrain patients. These medications usually act on neurotransmitters in the brain, altering behavior, perception, sensation, mood, and awareness.

According to the FDA, around 15,000 elder care facility residents die annually due to the unnecessary administration of anti-psychotics alone.

Is It Always Banned?

In limited cases, chemical restraints are legal, but this is still controversial. Doctors may be allowed to restrain patients if their actions pose a danger to other residents, nursing home staff, or themselves. But crucially, the resident must consent to the chemical restraint first.

Contact A Nursing Home Lawyer In NYC

Chemical restraint is almost always a grave violation of rights, and your loved one deserves better. If you believe that someone is being unnecessarily restrained in any way, contact the nursing home lawyers at Banville Law. Discuss your case with our experienced attorneys in a free consultation, and learn whether you can pursue compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.

For more articles, visit: https://banvillelaw.com/overuse-of-antibiotics/

Laurence P. Banville
Date Published: February 17, 2017
Laurence P. Banville is the managing partner of Banville Law. As an experienced personal injury attorney, Mr. Banville helps clients recover compensation from those responsible for his clients' injuries. Our firm is located in New York City, serving clients from the five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island.
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