Physical Restraints in California Nursing Homes

In spite of the fact that in California, the use of physical restraints on residents of long term care facilities is illegal, many elders are victims of this type of abuse. Unfortunately the use of physical restraints on elders in California is not only illegal, but gravely dangerous as well. Although physical restraints are often used, recommended or prescribed, most studies have shown that the use of physical restraints provides far more risks than benefits.

Every resident of every nursing home in California has the right to be free from any restraint imposed by the staff, unless specifically ordered by a doctor to treat a medical condition or to help the resident to function better. That means that you cannot be restrained by any staff member of a nursing home without your explicit consent.

But what exactly is considered a physical restraint? Generally speaking, physical restraints are defined as anything used to restrict the movement of an elder resident in a nursing home. These may include:

•Arm restraints
•Hand mitts
•Vests
•Leg restraints
•Soft ties

Other types of physical restraining methods involve the placement of items in the path of an elder resident so as to restrict their movement and mobility. Examples include:

•Placement of trays, bars, belts on wheelchairs
•Placement of wheelchair so that resident cannot move it
•Placement of bedrails so that resident cannot get out of bed
•Sheets tightly placed on the bed of elderly patient preventing movement.

The use of physical and chemical restraints in California nursing homes is sometimes a necessary way of protecting patients from injuring themselves and others. When used excessively or without consent, the practice becomes outright abusive. Too often physical restraints are used o make a staff member’s job easier, rather than help the resident. Overuse of restraints is exacerbated by the growing number of understaffed nursing facilities.

Christopher C. Walton is a California elder abuse attorney whose practice is dedicated to issues involving elder abuse & neglect. If you believe you or somebody you know has been subjected to physical restraints in a California nursing home without your consent, contact Christopher C. Walton at (866) 338-7079 for a free and confidential consultation.