Illegal Use of Chemical Restraints on Nursing Home Residents

The practice of giving unnecessary medications to nursing home residents to sedate them so they are more tolerable for the staff has become alarmingly common in California and across the rest of the nation. Chemical restraint is the act of using psychopharmacological drugs to sedate and restrict an individual’s movement or freedom. Sedatives and anti-anxiety medications are commonly used to initiate chemical restraint on nursing home residents. These drugs alter a person’s behavior, mood, thinking ability, and sensation.

It is illegal for nursing homes to administer chemical restraint to residents unless it is intended to treat a medical condition or to prevent residents from causing harm to themselves or other people. Under federal and state law, nursing homes are required to minimize the use of unnecessary drugs like chemical restraints. Physicians and caregivers must also use extreme caution if they administer chemical restraint to a resident because of the risks of severe side effects.

Common Types of Chemical Restraint Used in Nursing Homes

The main types of chemical restraint used in nursing homes include the following:

  • Benzodiazepines: This drug is used to alleviate anxiety, seizure disorders, muscle tension, panic attack symptoms, and insomnia. Benzodiazepines have proven effective for controlling agitation and sedating hostile individuals. Lorazepam and midazolam are the common types of benzodiazepine for agitation control.
  • Dissociative Anesthetics: These drugs are hallucinogens that distort the patient’s perceptions of sound and sight. Dissociative anesthetics detach individuals from their self and environment by blocking or reducing brain signals between the conscious mind and other parts of the brain. Because dissociative anesthetics produce an intense experience for the patient, they are used less frequently than antipsychotics and benzodiazepines.
  • Antipsychotics: These are the most commonly used drugs to administer chemical restraint. Antipsychotics include atypical antipsychotics and typical, or classic antipsychotics like droperidol, haloperidol, risperidone, and olanzapine. Antipsychotics can cause severe side effects and even life-threatening heart conditions.

If you believe that you or a loved one in a nursing home is receiving unnecessary medications, then please don’t hesitate to reach out to our dedicated nursing home abuse lawyers at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP. We are here to provide the top-notch legal representation and practical guidance that you need to fight for the justice you deserve. Our law firm has successfully handled many nursing home abuse cases and we will gladly take the time to explain all of your options under the law.

To request your free case consultation with our legal team, give us a call today at (800) 462-7160 or use our convenient online form.