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Nursing Homes Should Refrain from Using Physical Restraints and Psychotropic Drugs

The regular use of physical restraints on patients in nursing home facilities without an appropriate medical reason or regard for their dignity and wellbeing is not only a strong indicator of poor quality of care, but also a sign of elder abuse and neglect.  Older adults with dementia in particular are affected by this organizational conduct and are vulnerable to debilitating physical and psychological side effects.  Moreover, it is a violation of their human rights. In the United States, a staggering 38% of senior patients in these types of facilities experience being physically restrained at least once every day.  Although a variety of organizations that strive to reduce or eliminate the use of physical restraints exists, most of their initiatives have not been successful.  However, a longitudinal, multidirectional psychosocial and educational program that was developed to promote patient-centered care for older adults with dementia and reduce the use of physical restraints was implemented in 41 nursing homes with positive results.

According to a peer-reviewed article published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association (JAMDA), the use of restraints arises from a variety of interrelated factors that the program aims to address using patient-centered care: “behavior, perception, falls, nutrition, ethics, dementia knowledge, drugs, resident’s relatives, environment, and architectural design.”  One study that evaluated the extent to which the program could be implemented and achieve positive outcomes found that the intervention was successful in implementation and in reducing the use of restraints in nursing homes.

It is important to note that the decreased reliance of physical restraints by nursing home staff was not accompanied by increment use of psychotropic medication prescriptions, which are known to impede cognitive and physical function and postural balance in older adults, thereby increasing their risk of falls and hip fractures.  The program of elimination of physical restraints also included an educational program on psychotropic drug reduction and optimization, promoting both the decreased use of restraints and the medications.

In conclusion, the results of the program show that it is possible for nursing home facilities to reduce and even eliminate their use of physical restraints on their elderly patients together with a reduction of psychotropic drugs. It is crucial to note that nursing home staff must still provide vigilant supervision of their residents at all times to ensure their safety. Due to age-related declines in physical and cognitive abilities in older adults, nursing home patients are highly vulnerable to adverse events that could critically diminish their quality of life.  These adverse events include falls that result in serious injury such as hip fractures.

If you or a loved one has experienced neglect or abuse in a long-term care facility such as a nursing home or assisted living facility in Garden Grove or Tustin, California, contact us today. We believe that older adults are entitled to quality care in these types of facilities.  Nursing homes and assisted living facilities that fail to provide high quality care and neglect to maintain their residents’ wellbeing are reprehensible. Our office of experts in nursing home litigation are prepared to pursue your case with vigor until we obtain a just resolution.