Are chemical restraints ever necessary?

On Behalf of | May 26, 2022 | nursing home negligence

When a patient is a risk to themselves or others, there is a chance that they could need to be restrained. It is very important for everyone working with a patient to realize that restraints should only be used in emergency situations or with a physician’s orders.

Physicians who order either chemical or physical restraints need to use good judgment. They should observe the patient to determine if that restraint is necessary. Then, they should inform the patient and seek their informed consent to use the restraint. If the patient cannot give consent, then the patient’s surrogate (possibly their health care power of attorney) should be informed and make a decision for the patient.

What should a patient or surrogate know about chemical or physical restraints?

The medical provider should go over a few different things including:

  • Why a chemical or physical restraint might be used in a nursing home or hospital
  • What type of restraint would be used and when
  • How long a restraint can or should be used when a patient is a risk to themselves or others

Physicians should not write the order for restraints and then fail to follow up. They need to review the patient’s medical record regularly and be sure to stop chemical or physical restraints when they are not needed.

Can chemical or physical restraints be used against a person’s wishes?

Rarely. There are limited situations in which a patient might be a significant danger to themselves or others. In those cases, using a physical or chemical restraint could be indicated. The medical providers working with the patient should use the least restrictive option possible until control is regained. When it’s not needed any longer, it should be stopped or removed.

What should you do if your loved one was unreasonably restrained?

Restraints can be hazardous to the elderly. If your loved one was restrained through chemical or physical means, it’s important to find out what happened and why those restraints were used. If you were not informed or believe that the restraints were used inappropriately, it may be a good idea to look into your legal options.