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Chemical Restraint of a Nursing Home Resident Can Lead to Avoidable Injury or Death

 Posted on March 22, 2023 in Nursing Home Abuse

Cook County, IL Chemical Restraint Injury AttorneyIn a previous blog, we discussed when nursing home staff may use physical restraints on a resident. According to the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, physical restraints must be a last resort solution for residents who are at risk of hurting themselves or others. The restraints must be the least restrictive form of confinement possible, and the facility must get consent from the resident or the resident’s guardian before using restraints.

Chemical restraints are drugs used to sedate residents. Although it is disturbingly common, the use of chemical restraints on nursing home residents is extremely dangerous.

Examples of Chemical Restraints

The Nursing Home Care Act states that restraints cannot be used to punish a nursing home resident. Furthermore, staff cannot restrain a resident for their own convenience. Sedated residents may be easier to “deal with” but giving a drug to a resident simply to make him or her more cooperative is unethical and unlawful.

Unfortunately, the use of psychotropic mediation to chemically sedate residents is not uncommon. Medications must only be administered to a resident if he or she requires the medication for a legitimate medical reason. However, studies show that antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and sedatives are prescribed at extremely high rates. Often, the resident does not have a medical condition necessitating the medication, the staff are only giving the resident the medication to make him or her more compliant.

The Dangers of Chemical Restraints

Nursing home residents who are given sedating medication are at greater risk of injury or death. Many of the drugs used as chemical restraints have side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness that increase a resident’s fall risk substantially. Antidepressants can cause unsafe drops in blood pressure. Psychotropic drugs can also impair muscle control and movement. Memory loss, confusion, agitation, and disorientation are other side effects that put residents at risk. Another issue to be aware of is drug withdrawal. Some medications, including benzodiazepines, can cause severe and even fatal withdrawal symptoms. Unsurprisingly, use of chemical restraint is associated with significant functional decline and loss of qualify of life.

If your loved one suffered injury or death after being given medication without a medical condition requiring that medication, you can take legal action on his or her behalf. A nursing home injury claim may be a way to seek justice for your loved one and hold the facility accountable.

Contact our Nursing Home Injury Lawyer

At Schwartz Injury Law, we are committed to standing up for nursing home residents’ rights. Our skilled team of Chicago nursing home injury attorneys work to hold negligent, neglectful, and abusive staff accountable for their actions. Call our office at 312-535-4625 for a free consultation to learn how we can help you.


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