Nursing Home Restraint Use Continues to Drop

Carl Saiontz

By Carl Saiontz
Posted February 18, 2009


According to a report in USA Today, the number of facilities which use nursing home restraints has dropped from 21.1% in 1991 to only 5.5% in 2007. This decline demonstrates the growing recognition that the use of physical restraints can diminish the quality of life for the elderly and ill, and in some cases it can lead to serious injuries or death.

>>INFORMATION: Nursing Home Restraint Lawsuits

Physical nursing home restraints were once widely used in healthcare facilities and nursing homes under the theory that they prevented falls and reduced the risk of serious injury. However, in a number of facilities, restraints have been grossly overused as a convenience to the staff or to discipline an aggravated resident who may be suffering from dementia.

Devices which inhibit movement or access to the resident’s body is a restraint. These could include bed straps, wheelchair belts, or anything that confines the resident.

Federal nursing home regulations only permit the use of restraints when there is a documented medical reason, and restraining someone to punish them or to cover up for a facilities lack of adequate staffing is not allowed.

Use of nursing home restraints can cause severe mental desperation and anguish, with diminished quality of life and socialization.

Excessive use can also cause physical nursing home injuries like dehydration, bedsores, depression, weakening of muscles and possible strangulation. They can also result in internal bleeding, fractures, head injury or other potentially life-threatening injury.

The USA Today report demonstrates that there has been a steady decline in recent years, with nursing homes immobilizing 8.5% of their residents on average in 2003, 7.7% in 2004, 7% in 2005, 6.4% in 2006 and 5.5% in 2007.


The nursing home attorneys at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. investigate potential nursing home restraint injuries throughout the United States on behalf of individuals who have died or suffered serious physical injury. To review a potential case for a friend or family member, request a free consultation and claim evaluation.

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