Fighting For The Elderly, Vulnerable and Injured.

Are chemical restraints legal in California nursing homes?

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2023 | Nursing home Abuse

Your loved one is in a California nursing home, reliant on the care of others as they age. You’ve heard about the use of chemical restraints – a serious issue that stirs up questions and concerns. Certain situations indeed necessitate these restraints for safety and well-being. However, not every circumstance warrants their use.

There is a fine line between the necessary and legitimate use of chemical restraints and instances where it could potentially cross over into abuse.

Situations that allow caregivers to administer restraints

Caregivers can legally administer chemical restraints in California nursing homes under certain circumstances. However, using such restraints must follow strict guidelines to protect residents’ rights and health.

Under California law, the use of chemical restraints is permissible when:

  • Caregivers need to use the restraints to manage a resident’s medical symptoms.
  • The administration of the drug is part of a written care plan for the resident. Healthcare professionals must regularly review this plan and the use of the drug.
  • The resident or their legal representative consents to the administration of the drug. This means they have received, understood and acknowledged comprehensive information about the drug—including its intended use, potential side effects and possible alternatives.

Chemical restraints can help manage residents exhibiting certain behaviors. However, any usage that extends beyond the documented medical need might be considered illegal.

Situations where it could be illegal

The administration of chemical restraints crosses into illegal or inappropriate territory when:

  • Caregivers use the restraints more for their convenience or when they are not necessary to treat medical symptoms.
  • The resident or their representative has not provided informed consent.
  • Caregivers use the restraints excessively or without regular review and adjustment as necessary.

It is illegal for caregivers to administer chemical restraints unless they do so for medical purposes or to prevent residents from harming themselves or others. If you believe that caregivers are restraining your loved one unjustly or inappropriately, it might be time to intervene on their behalf. However, if signs of abuse are evident and action is necessary, you have legal recourse. You can seek assistance by contacting the local Department of Public Health, Licensing and Certification, or the Ombudsman Program. They can help ensure your loved one receives the care and respect they deserve.