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What are chemical restraints in nursing homes?

| Apr 11, 2020 | Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse 

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, odds are you hope that he or she receives the best possible care. Most have heard horror stories of elder abuse and unfortunately, some of it is true. 

One form of elder abuse that you may be unaware of is chemical restraint. According to Human Rights Watch, many U.S. nursing homes use chemical restraints on their patients. 

What are chemical restraints? 

Chemical restraint involves the use of drugs or chemicals to sedate a patient so that the caregiving staff can suppress disruptive behavior. For patients with dementia, he or she may be in pain or in need of care and the caregiver can interpret it as disruptive. If you are worried about your loved one, you need to understand what a chemical restraint is. 

Most nursing home facilities that utilize chemical restraints use antipsychotic medication. Some may do this to sedate a patient whereas others may do it as an act of discipline. These drugs are supposed to treat patients with conditions such as schizophrenia and have high risks to those with dementia. 

What are elder protections? 

Care facilities for older adults should not use administer inappropriate drugs to patients. The Nursing Care Reform Act of 1987 provides legal protections for those within nursing homes. However, the enforcement of these regulations is the problem. For instance, government inspectors administered over 7,000 citations between 2014 and 2017 to nursing homes for antipsychotic drug violations. However, 97% of these did not have to pay any penalty because it caused “no actual harm.”