Physical injuries in nursing homes can occur for many reasons. Your loved one could have fallen and gotten hurt as a result. There could be staff members with anger issues who become physically aggressive toward your loved one and cause them injury.
Medication could also cause health issues for the residents involved, especially when residents receive large doses of sedative medications. There are occasionally situations in which so-called chemical restraints are necessary and appropriate, but some nursing homes use medication to sedate or more easily control their residents without true justification.
Such over-medicating can cause real physical harm, ranging from damage to the kidney and liver to increased risk of future falls and death. Families negatively impacted by the inappropriate use of chemical restraints may be able to pursue a claim against the facility that improperly administered medication.
When are chemical restraints appropriate?
There’s typically only one scenario in which it is legal for a nursing home to use drugs to control the behavior of a resident.
In a scenario where aggressive behavior endangers staff members or other residents, the use of chemical restraints could be an appropriate decision. Sometimes, chemical restraints are necessary to sedate an individual because their heightened emotional state puts them at risk of injuring themselves.
Unless staff members had reason to believe that your loved one was a threat to themselves or others at the time that they administered the medication, the use of chemical restraints may not be appropriate. Someone being argumentative with staff does not justify the use of chemical restraints, nor does understaffing and an inability to provide hands-on care for everyone at the facility.
How chemical restraints can hurt
There are numerous ways that unnecessarily medicating older adults can be dangerous. If the person administering the medication makes some mistake with selecting the medication, they could cause a dangerous drug interaction or provoke an allergic response.
Beyond that, the patient could have an adverse reaction to the medication even when administered properly in an appropriate dose. Faster cognitive decline and more emotional regulation issues are common side effects. There is the risk of someone becoming chemically dependent or addicted to the drugs used to sedate or call them down.
Families may have to pay thousands of dollars to treat someone’s medication-related injuries or help them overcome chemical dependence. Obtaining copies of internal records and medical reports can be an important starting point for those whose loved one suffered injuries due to the improper use of chemical restraints in a nursing home facility.