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Are physical restraints ever okay in Wisconsin nursing homes?

Restraints may be used in nursing homes only under very limited circumstances

In very limited circumstances, physical restraints may be necessary to keep a nursing home resident safe. However, physical restraints are not permitted for the convenience of the nursing home staff, and if they are used incorrectly and a nursing home resident is injured, then that resident may have a successful claim for nursing home negligence.

Physical Restraints Can Be Dangerous

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recognizes that physical restraints can be dangerous for nursing home residents. The agency has identified at least 15 different dangers associated with physical restraints which include falls, infections, and death.

Thus, physical restraints may only be used in Wisconsin nursing homes if one of the following is true:

  • The restraint is necessary to treat the resident’s medical symptom or condition.
     
  • The restraint is necessary to help the resident achieve the highest level of functioning or wellbeing.

Restraints are never permitted as discipline, punishment, or for the convenience of the staff. Additionally, in the absence of an emergency, a physical restraint should only be used after other, less restrictive interventions have been tried.

An Assessment Should Be Completed Before a Resident Is Restrained

The nursing home should complete an assessment before using physical restraints on your loved one. The assessment should include:

  • Gathering as much information as possible about the resident’s condition and the specific reason a restraint is being considered.
     
  • Identifying all methods other than restraints that could be used.
     
  • Evaluating what has been done in the past and the pros and cons of each option.
     
  • Choosing the method of restraint that best meets the resident’s needs.

If a restraint is considered necessary, then the nursing home should use the least restrictive restraint and it should be used for as short a time as possible.

You may have questions about the specific restraints that are being used, or considered, for your loved one. Do not hesitate to ask questions and demand answers about the use of physical restraints.

And if your loved one has been hurt by an unreasonable restraint, then it is important to hold the nursing home accountable for this type of nursing home abuse. Contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer today at 1-800-800-5678 today to get your questions answered and to learn more about your loved one’s rights.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham