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What is Considered Unreasonable Restraint?

 Posted on May 24, 2022 in Nursing Home Abuse

Chicago Nursing Home Injury LawyerThe top priority of any nursing home should be to keep residents safe. Nursing home staff must carefully balance the need for safety and residents' desire to be independent. Many nursing home residents have cognitive illnesses that can make them a danger to themselves. For example, an elderly person with Alzheimer's may get confused and try to leave the facility. Elopement from the nursing home can be deadly, especially in high-traffic areas or extreme weather conditions. Consequently, doors to the outside may be locked and require a key card to go in and out. Illinois nursing homes may put certain limitations on residents. However, Illinois law makes it clear that unreasonable restraint of a nursing home resident is illegal.

Illinois Law on Nursing Home Restraint

There are times that a nursing home resident's independence may need to be limited. Residents with certain medical conditions can become confused or even violent, putting themselves, other residents, and the staff in danger. However, cognitive decline does not excuse unreasonable restraint. Nursing home staff are expected to ensure a resident's safety while also preserving their dignity.

Physical restraints are devices that restrict a resident's movement. Leg restraints, soft ties, hand mitts, and body vests are examples of physical restraints. Everyday objects may also be used as physical restraints. For example, staff may tuck in a resident's bed sheets so tightly that the resident cannot move or get out of bed.

Per the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, physical restraints may be used in certain situations. If nursing home staff use a physical restraint to limit a resident's movement, they are required to:

  • Get informed consent from the resident or the resident's guardian.

  • Only use the restraint for a specific period of time for a specific reason.

  • Ensure that the restraint is the least restrictive means needed to ensure safety.

Restraints May Not Be Used for Staff Convenience

Illinois law makes it clear that nursing home restraints cannot be used unless absolutely necessary. Staff may not restrain a resident simply because it makes their job easier. Sadly, unjustified restraint still occurs. This is especially true of chemical restraints. Chemical restraints are medications used to sedate a resident. Some nursing homes administer psychiatric medications to sedate residents and make them more docile. This practice is immoral and illegal.  

Contact a Chicago Nursing Home Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one were the victim of unreasonable restraint in a nursing home, contact Schwartz Injury Law for help. You may be able to take legal action against the nursing home. Call our Cook County nursing home abuse lawyers at  312-535-4625 for a free consultation.



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