What Are Chemical Restraints?

What Are Chemical Restraints?Chemical restraints refer to a situation in which a nursing home’s caregivers administer a chemical drug to inhibit a resident’s movement or freedom. It’s most commonly used to restrain or sedate a resident, either because the caregiver doesn’t have the resources to deal with them, or as an act of punishment. The most common chemicals used for this purpose include anti-anxiety medications or sedatives.

It is illegal for a nursing home or caregiver to use chemical restraints, just as it’s illegal to use any other type of restraint on a resident. Nursing home caregivers can’t administer medications to a resident unless they are prescribed to them for the treatment of a certain diagnosed medical condition.

When Are Chemical Restraints Used?

Chemical restraints may sometimes be used as a last resort if there are concerns about a resident’s safety to themselves or others. However, even in this type of situation, their use must be carefully documented in the patient’s file. The use must also be limited.

Common Types of Chemical Restraints

While anti-anxiety medications are the most commonly used types of chemical restraints, other medications may be used for the same purpose, including:

  • Antipsychotics
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Dissociative medications
  • Sedatives

Both state and federal laws prohibit the use of chemical restraints. If a caregiver is concerned about the safety of a patient or themselves, they must receive consent. Even if a medication is prescribed to the patient by their medical provider, the patient also has a right to refuse the use of the medication.

If the patient’s medications are used as a chemical restraint in a time of safety concerns, the medication must still be prescribed to the resident by their physician. The physician must not only review the patient’s medical files but also carefully prescribe the duration and use of the chemical restraint. If a physician approves the use of emergency chemical restraints and the caregiver administers them without the knowledge of the physician, they must consult with them immediately following use.

Do You Have Questions About Chemical Restraint in a Nursing Home?

If your loved one was administered chemical restraints without your approval or their consent, you may have a legal case. Administering chemical restraints without following the proper protocols, even in an emergency, can be considered abuse or neglect. Even when a physician approves the emergency use of a medication due to a person’s safety, it’s not typically referred to as a restraint.

In most cases, chemical restraints are used by an unaware caregiver who is overwhelmed or frustrated, and may not realize the severity of the issue. Either way, the use of unapproved chemical restraints is usually considered nursing home abuse. If you have questions, it’s important to reach out to your loved one’s nursing home and consider speaking with a lawyer to find out if it’s considered abuse.

Contact a Paterson Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer to Discuss Your Case in New Jersey Today

Seniors in nursing homes and other care facilities deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Additionally, nursing home staff needs to ensure that patients are safe and secure at all times. If your loved one suffered an injury, or worse, due to nursing home negligence or abuse in New Jersey, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The experienced nursing home neglect attorneys at Sugarman Law represent clients throughout New Jersey, including Jersey City, Paterson, Union City, and Westfield. Call (866) 657-5660 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation today. We have an office conveniently located at 80 East Main Street, Somerville, NJ 08876, as well as an office in Marlton, NJ.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.


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