Chemical Restraint

Chemical restraint is one of the most devastating forms of nursing home abuse in South Carolina.

Chemical restraint is the unnecessary administration of antipsychotic or sedative medications to subdue residents, to make them more pliant and to make them easier to care for. Benzodiazepines and haloperidol are among the drugs used for chemical restraint in nursing homes.

Chemical restraint can be difficult to detect and it severely impacts the freedom and health of affected residents. Taking unnecessary drugs can be dangerous. Payment for the drugs can be expensive, and patients are deprived of their ability to act of their own free will.

If your loved one has been a victim of this type of nursing home abuse, the South Carolina personal injury attorneys at Louthian Law Firm can help. Call our Columbia nursing home neglect attorneys today toll free at (803) 454-1200, or use our online contact form. We serve clients throughout South Carolina, including Columbia, Orangeburg, Lexington, Aiken and Sumter.

Chemical Restraint is a Common Form of Nursing Home Abuse

South Carolina nursing homes must provide patients with information about their rights, including posting a residents’ bill of rights. Among those rights is the right to be free from chemical restraints used for the convenience of the nursing home staff.

Federal regulations also establish rules regarding the use of antipsychotic drugs. According to 42 CFR 483.25, nursing homes must not give patients unnecessary drugs, including antipsychotic medications.

Despite these requirements, a 2011 report from the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that 14 percent of the 2.1 million nursing homes residents were prescribed at least one atypical antipsychotic drug during 2007. Further, 51 percent of Medicare atypical antipsychotic drug claims were erroneous, which means they were not used for medically accepted purposes or not documented as having actually been administered.

Nursing homes may administer these drugs to:

  • Make patients more sedate and easier to control.
  • Limit complaints or poor behavior caused by excessive heat, overcrowding and noise.
  • Make patients more accepting of changes in their routine.
  • Stop the taunting or abuse of other patients or make a patient indifferent to taunting/abuse
  • Calm agitated or upset patients.
  • More easily solve mental health problems that could be addressed with proper mental health assistance.

In some cases, according to a New York Times blog, a nursing home may prescribe a patient with medication to deal with a temporary problem that harried staff has no time to address, such as nighttime agitation. The resident will then stay on the drug indefinitely, even if there is no medical need for it.

Whatever the reason or the justification, the chemical restraint of a resident for the convenience of nursing home staff, rather than for the resident’s own good, is not legal and is a form of nursing home or elder abuse.

Consequences of Chemical Restraint in SC Nursing Homes

Chemical restraint in nursing homes has many serious consequences:

  • It is dangerous to patients, especially when antipsychotics are prescribed in conjunction with other drugs. Delirium and falls leading to concussions or other injuries are common. When given to dementia patients especially, the FDA warns that the use of atypical antipsychotic drugs increases the risk of death.
  • Other health problems or abuses can be masked when patients are subdued and unable to complain or recall incidents of abuse or problems to family members or others who could provide help.
  • It is expensive. According to the Department of Health and Human Services report, Medicare spent $309 million on claims for residents prescribed atypical antipsychotic drugs.
Perhaps most importantly, however, the quality of a patient’s life is diminished as his or her free will and abilities are taken away or limited by the unnecessary drugs prescribed for the convenience of nursing home staff who don’t wish to live up to their ability to provide competent care.

Fighting South Carolina Nursing Home Abuse

When elder abuse or nursing home abuse in the form of chemical restraint occurs, you can take legal action on behalf of your loved ones. The South Carolina nursing home negligence lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm can review your case, help you to gather evidence needed to prove abuse and assist you in recovering damages and putting an end to the nursing home abuse. You may be able to recover both economic damages and non-economic damages.

The nursing home will likely deny drug abuse allegations, often by claiming that the medication was necessary for the patient’s health. Our experienced Columbia nursing home negligence attorneys know how to assemble solid evidence to make a strong case that the nursing home administered the medication improperly and in violation of patient rights.

Get Help From Our SC Chemical Restraint Attorneys

There is no substitute for proper legal help when making an elder abuse claim. The South Carolina nursing home abuse lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm can help you recover compensation for wrongful chemical restraint. Call our nursing home neglect lawyers today toll free at (803) 454-1200, or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation today.

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