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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home residents live in a nursing home because they are unable to live on their own. This could be due to physical disabilities, mental incapacitation, or most often, both. Sometimes these issues make it necessary to restrain a resident in order to limit his or her movement in some way. For example, side rails on a bed may be used to help a resident who is prone to rolling out of bed avoid injury. Restraints can be either physical or chemical, and should only be used when doing so is absolutely necessary to prevent harm to the resident. Restraints that are used as a punishment or for the convenience of nursing home staff are unacceptable and not in compliance with Illinois law.

The Nursing Home Care Act Outlines Residents’ Rights

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act is a law that protects the rights of nursing home residents and dictates the type of care that nursing home staff must provide for residents. According to the law, nursing home residents have the right to:

  • Be free from neglect and abuse at the hands of nursing home staff;
  • Practice their chosen religion;
  • Keep personal items and clothing in their room;
  • Receive medical treatment from a doctor of their choosing;
  • Receive visits, phone calls, and other correspondence from loved ones;
  • Refuse unwanted medical treatment; and
  • Be free from unreasonable restraint.

These are only a few of the rights protected by the Nursing Home Care Act. The full text of the act can be found in Section 210 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

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Illinois nursing home abuse lawyerIllinois law dictates that individuals receiving treatment at a nursing home be free from abuse and neglect. Tragically, because of issues like understaffing and inadequate staff training, nursing home neglect and abuse continue to occur. Often nursing home abuse does not look like other forms of abuse. One way nursing home and assisted living residents are cruelly mistreated is with unreasonable restraint.

Most long-term care facilities have patients with cognitive or medical problems who may occasionally need to be restrained from moving. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are dramatically overusing both physical and chemical restraints. Residents can suffer physical injuries as well as emotional scars from unreasonable restraint. Unwarranted restraint is a major violation of the rights of the nursing home patient. If you or a loved one has been unreasonably restrained, you may be entitled to compensation.

Physical Restraints Without Justification is Abuse

Residents in a nursing home should be treated with compassion and given as much autonomy as safely possible. Unscrupulous or ignorant nursing home staff may use chemical and physical restraints as a means of keeping “high maintenance” residents subdued. Physical means of restraining residents include items such as straps, ties, bed guardrails, tightly-tucked sheets, and arm and hand restraints. Any type of physical force that restricts a resident’s movement is considered restraint as well. Physically restraining a patient should be reserved only for times a resident presents a risk to himself or others. If physical restraints are used excessively or in a way which causes a resident injury, this may be considered abuse.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysSometimes, a nursing home resident needs to be retrained in some way. In some cases, confusion or aggression related to a mental illness or dementia can make a nursing home resident act out in ways that could hurt another resident, a staff member, or themselves. In other situations, patients must be secured so that they do not hurt themselves while waking up from surgery or when recovering from certain medical procedures. It is understandable that doctors, nurses, and other staff have means to control residents who are acting dangerously, but too often, unfortunately, restraints do more damage than they prevent.

Physical Restraints Which Inhibit Movement

It is often necessary for nursing home staff to limit a resident’s movement. In order to do this, they may use physical restraints such as straps, belts, vests, limb ties, wheelchair brakes, and bedside rails. The misuse or overuse of restraints such as these can cause nursing home residents to suffer injuries such as:

  • Diminished muscle strength and balance;
  • Bruises and cuts;
  • Urinary incontinence;
  • Constipation;
  • Decubitus ulcers, also called bedsores;
  • Respiratory complications;
  • Malnutrition;
  • Reduced cardiovascular endurance; and
  • Feelings of agitation, depression, anxiety, and helplessness.

If you a loved one has suffered one of these injuries after being restrained by nursing home employees, you may have a valid personal injury case.

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