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William Rambaum, PA Clearwater & Oldsmar Elder Law Attorney

Unreasonable Restraint In Florida Nursing Homes


Anyone who researches nursing homes where they plan to reside in the future if their health condition requires it, or who has had a family member enter a nursing home after suffering a sudden decline in health, fears nursing home abuse and neglect.  The term “abuse” calls to mind staff members striking nursing home residents or threatening them with physical violence, and the term “neglect” makes most people think of staff members intentionally ignoring residents, but in fact these are only a few of the many forms that abuse and neglect can take in nursing homes.  For example, the overuse of restraint is a common form of abuse and neglect of nursing home residents, and unless you are aware of the standards of nursing home care, abusive practices may look harmless or, at least, not intentionally harmful.  If you are concerned about the use of physical restraint or the overprescribing of certain medications in a nursing home where your elderly family member is receiving care, contact a Central Florida elder law attorney.

When Is Physical Restraint Allowed in Nursing Homes?

Physical restraint is when nursing home employees make it physically impossible for a patient to get out of a bed, chair, or room without assistance. This could involve physically tying or strapping the patient to a bed, chair, or wheelchair, or attaching a guardrail to a bed or a tray to a chair so that the patient cannot get out.  It is a violation of Florida law for nursing home employees to physically restrain a patient unless it is medically necessary, such as when allowing the patient to move freely would be a danger to the patient or to other people.  The employees cannot use the physical restraint without an order from a physician, and they can only use it for short periods of time, only as long as it is medically necessary.

Medication Can Be a Form of Unreasonable Restraint

Anyone would be alarmed to see their family member tied to a bed in a nursing home, but more difficult for concerned family members to discover is chemical restraint, which is when nursing homes give medications to patients not based on what is best for the patient’s health but in order to make the patient easier to deal with.  Chemical restraint is alarmingly widespread in nursing homes.  It can involve giving tranquilizers, sedatives, and mood stabilizers to patients who don’t need them or, in patients where these drugs are indicated, giving higher doses than the patient needs.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the medications your family member’s doctor has prescribed and why the doctor prescribed them.

Contact an Attorney for Help

Nursing homes have a legal responsibility to help patients remain as healthy as possible, but because of understaffing, many of them cut corners.  A Clearwater elder law attorney can help you if your elderly relatives in a nursing home are not receiving appropriate care.  Contact William Rambaum for help today.


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