Chicago Nursing Home Improper Use of Restraints Attorneys

There are certain situations where restraining nursing home patients is justified to prevent them from harming themselves or others. Still, physical and chemical restraints are sometimes misused as discipline or for convenience.

Nursing homes should opt for more compassionate alternatives to restraints. Other interventions are better alternatives. These include:

  • Adjusting patients’ medication
  • Offering activities to focus their attention
  • Modifying their environment or routine
  • Providing companionship
  • Attempting to make them as physically comfortable as possible.

Problem behavior should be cause for a thorough medical evaluation. Using restraints to deal with behavior issues may result in overlooking an underlying medical condition that requires treatment.

Some nursing home staff may choose to improperly use restraints because they are not equipped to deescalate situations from disruptive residents or manage those who require frequent assistance due to their disabilities. This is inappropriate and unlawful. The federal Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987 protects nursing home residents against the improper use of restraints, as does Sec. 2-106 of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act.

If you have a loved one who is being restrained without a legitimate reason in a Chicago nursing home, a Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC nursing home abuse lawyer will help you. We can work toward stopping the mistreatment and pursuing full compensation for your loved one’s medical care costs and the pain and suffering associated with the wrongful restraints. Call us today at 312-346-8620 to schedule a free consultation.

Why You Need a Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC Attorney on Your Side

The staff at nursing homes are required to meet standards of care and act reasonably at all times. If they fail to be consistent with this duty and cause injury to a resident, they can be found negligent and held accountable. This is especially true when a nursing home employee intentionally causes harm, and improper use of restraints can fall under this category. When the administration of a nursing home is revealed to be responsible for the abuse of a resident, it is obligated to make restitution toward the resident who has suffered.

If you have confronted the nursing home administration about how your loved one has been treated but do not feel satisfied with its response, you would benefit from the support of an attorney who can explain the possibility of filing a nursing home abuse claim. This type of civil legal action is a way to seek financial compensation for the harm done to your loved one. Nursing home abuse cases tend to be complex, so retaining the services of an experienced Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC attorney will ensure that the claim process is handled correctly and your loved one’s rights are protected.

Forms of Nursing Home Restraints

Restraints should only be used when absolutely necessary and just for a specific, limited time to improve a resident’s quality of life. Before resorting to restraints, staff should first explore less restrictive means of patient management, and there should be documentation in a resident’s medical record when there is any need for restraints.

Physical restraints restrict people from moving their body, and they cannot independently manipulate or remove the restraints. Nursing homes often use the following types of physical restraints:

  • Bed rails
  • Belts or straps
  • Vests
  • Cuffs
  • Limb ties
  • Wheelchair bars and brakes
  • Tightly tucked in bedsheets

Chemical restraints are sedatives, antipsychotic drugs, and other medications given to control a nursing home resident’s behavior instead of for a legitimate medical reason. Not only does this violate the resident’s dignity, but it can also lead to side effects that cause serious health concerns. According to a Food and Drug Administration warning, the unnecessary use of antipsychotic medication causes intolerable side effects and an increase in death rates.

Certain measures taken by nursing home staff can be defined as emotional restraints. Tactics such as locking residents in their rooms, verbal threats, electronic surveillance, psychological pressure, or isolation can be improper and harmful methods of restraint that cause trauma to the resident.

Signs and Damaging Effects of Improper Restraint Use

If you suspect that your loved one has been inappropriately restrained, you should inquire about why restraints were deemed necessary and what other options were tried first. The visible indicators that restraints have been used include:

  • Bruising on wrists, legs, arms, ankles, or torso.
  • Devices such as belts, straps, bed rails, or ties are left on a bed frame or somewhere in the room.
  • Medicinal side effects include lack of focus, agitation, loss of appetite, grogginess, or increased sleepiness.

Improper use of restraints can lead to serious harm. Even necessary restraints can become hurtful when staff fails to remove them once they are no longer needed. A resident left in restraints can suffer a host of injuries and medical issues, including:

  • Pain and discomfort
  • Bedsores
  • Muscle damage and atrophy
  • Broken bones
  • Loss of balance
  • Lacerations
  • Bruising
  • Respiratory problems
  • Infection
  • Incontinence or constipation
  • Decreased mobility and bone density

Along with physical injury, improper restraints can lead to emotional and mental harm, such as:

  • Loss of dignity and independence
  • Depression
  • Shame
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Functional decline
  • Social isolation

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequent questions our nursing home abuse lawyers get about improper use of restraints:

How long do I have to file a lawsuit after being injured due to improper use of restraints at a nursing home?

While most personal injury claims are settled out of court, the lawsuit threat is a key component of settlement negotiations. Therefore, it’s important to remember Illinois’ statute of limitations for personal injury claims for your case. For most personal injury claims, the deadline to file a lawsuit is two years from the date of the injury. However, an extension can sometimes be granted if the injury is not discovered until long after it occurred.

This is somewhat common in nursing home abuse cases, as many nursing home residents have difficulty speaking in their own defense due to mental health difficulties. In these cases, the deadline to file a lawsuit can be extended to two years after discovering the injury. A lawyer can tell you more about whether this exception may apply to your claim.

How much does it cost to hire a lawyer to represent me in my nursing home abuse claim?

We work on a contingency fee basis for personal injury claims at Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC. What that means is you don’t pay us any fees upfront. We only collect money from you if we help you collect compensation for your injuries. When that happens, we’ll collect a portion of your compensation. However, you don’t owe us anything if we don’t win your case.

What could I be compensated for if I file a claim or lawsuit related to my nursing home abuse injury?

Illinois law allows personal injury victims to recover compensation for many injuries and losses. If you file a claim for an injured family member in a nursing home, they will receive similar compensation. Among other things, you and your family could potentially be compensated for the following:

  • The cost of any medical treatment related to your injuries, such as doctor’s visits, hospital stays, lab work, prescription drugs, physical therapy, X-rays, and other diagnostic testing, and the cost of transportation to your appointments.
  • The physical pain and suffering you’ve suffered due to your injuries.
  • Any mental anguish you have suffered as a result of the injury, including anxiety, depression, diminished quality of life, etc.
  • Punitive damages against the nursing home if they were especially reckless, or you can show they deliberately caused you harm.

What evidence do you need to establish liability in a nursing home abuse claim?

You’ll want as much evidence as possible to get full compensation for your injuries in a nursing home abuse claim. Here are some of the types of evidence that are often used in these cases:

  • Medical records
  • Testimony from anyone who may have witnessed the abuse
  • Testimony from medical experts
  • Records from the nursing home, such as their patient logs or any records from prior claims made against them
  • Footage from surveillance cameras at the nursing home

If Improper Restraints Have Harmed Your Loved One, We Want to Hear From You

Anyone who has a family member in a nursing home expects that they will be well cared for and treated with dignity, but the improper use of physical and chemical restraints does occur. Staff that may be temperamental or poorly trained can cause harm to a resident with a non-approved restraint, leaving their employer responsible for the damage that results. Even if the injuries that result from restraints are accidental, the nursing home should still be held liable.

If you believe that your loved one has been restrained without authorization or good reason, one of our compassionate nursing home abuse lawyers would like to discuss your situation and advise you on the best way to proceed. Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC can take action and seek justice and compensation for the suffering you and your loved one have endured.

Contact us online today or call our office at 312-346-8620 to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation with our dedicated legal team member.

Written by Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC Last Updated : December 4, 2023