Orange County Elderly Physical Restraint Injury Attorney

Most of us think physical restraints are reserved for people under arrest or mental patients who want to harm themselves or others. However, nursing homes can and do use restraints when they want to restrict the movements of a “troubled” patient.  If your loved one experienced injuries from restraints, contact us. Our Orange County elderly physical restraint injury lawyers can fight for justice and compensation.

The Use of Physical Restraints

Can nursing homes use physical restraints whenever they like? No, they cannot. There are strict “dos” and “do nots” when it comes to nursing homes using physical or chemical restraints. California law specifies: “Physical restraints for behavior control shall only be used on the signed order of a physician … except in an emergency that threatens to bring immediate injury to patient or others.”

In California, physical restraint use is much higher than in the rest of the nation – an estimated 50% higher. Around 11.7% of nursing home residents in California were restrained the last time data was taken, compared to the rest of the nation’s 6%. Despite a push by the state and patient care advocates, many nursing home residents still suffer the indignity of unlawful restraint.

Why Would Physical Restraints Be Required?

Physical restraints are items or equipment designed to confine or prevent a person from being able to move about freely. In California skilled nursing facilities, they are restricted to “cloth vests, soft ties, soft cloth mittens, seat belts, and trays with spring release devices.” They cannot have locking mechanisms. Their use must be documented in the patient’s file, along with the behavior leading up to the restraint, as well as a set time limit for the restraint.

Why would they ever be used? Nursing homes often make the following excuses to justify the implementation of physical restraints:

  • Prevent falls
  • Avoid disruption or interference with medical treatment
  • Manage staffing inadequacies (since there were not enough caregivers, patients were restrained)
  • Contain and control patients whose memories are failing

If the use of physical restraints injured your elderly loved one and the nursing home staff justified their use by providing you with any of the aforementioned excuses, speak with an Orange County nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible.

Restraints Cause Harm to Patients

Restraints alone are responsible for significant injuries and conditions in the elderly – physical as well as psychological harm. Imagine being unclear about where you are or how you got there and wanting to return home, only to discover you are essentially bound and shackled. Would you not fight to free yourself even if it meant harming yourself? Can you expect anyone else would do less? Of course not.

Risks of physical restraints include:

  • Muscular atrophy
  • Bruising and injuries from attempting to escape
  • Bacterial infections
  • Bedsores
  • Psychological and behavioral implications
  • Social isolation
  • Pain and discomfort

Avoiding the Use of Physical Restraints

It is indeed possible to avoid the use of physical restraints or, at a minimum, to reduce the frequency with which they are used.

To do so:

  1. First, it is essential that the patient’s family have a clear understanding of how and when restraints may be used. There needs to be a clear directive on the part of the facility and the family as to when these extreme measures can be applied.
  2. Second, other options should be considered. Cognitively impaired individuals who pose a risk to their own medical care may require additional support and specialized therapy rather than bodily constraints.
  3. Third, there are other ways of maintaining the safety and security of elderly patients rather than tying them down: maintaining adequate staff, empowering patients to go where they please, making beds more comfortable and adjustable, monitoring the patient’s day-to-day desires, and providing alternative treatments when dementia or Alzheimer’s is to blame for restlessness and confusion.

If your elderly family member was injured or had an illness develop or worsen because of the use of physical restraints, please contact the Orange County elderly physical restraint injury attorneys at Siegel Law. We can be reached by phone at (562) 645-4145 or online. A Orange County elderly physical restraint injury lawyer can help you find out about your senior’s legal rights. Compensation may be available.


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If your elderly loved one is being abused or mistreated, learn how our attorney can help you. You can reach us by calling (562) 372-6904 or using the form below.

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