After discovering a 67-year-old dementia patient bound to a chair, duct tape covering her mouth so she wouldn’t scream, a caregiver removed the portion of duct tape over the woman’s mouth – so she could give her sleeping pills. She then removed a small portion of tape that bound the woman’s body, and then discussed with another caregiver – the one who had initially left the patient in that state – that tying a patient to a chair was wrong. Nonetheless, she did not report the incident.
The first would later explain she’d only done so because the patient was unable to stay quiet or still and she had other patients who required her attention.
That was the account as explained by investigators with the Boynton Beach Police Department, as reported by The Sun Sentinel. Both women, one 44 and another 52, were arrested on charges of false imprisonment and elderly abuse. A third employee is also being investigated as a possible suspect. The victim, police said, was not alert to the time, place or year.
An officer investigating reportedly observed first-hand physical evidence of restraint, though it was not explained in the arrest report. At one point, investigators said, the chair was tilted back against the bed, which would have made for a very dangerous situation for the vulnerable patient. A joint investigation was initiated with the Florida Department of Children & Families, which did release a statement saying the allegations were “reprehensible,” and a protective action is underway. An additional review is underway by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which licenses and inspects nursing homes.
Our nursing home abuse attorneys in Palm Beach County know that such incidents can also spur civil action on behalf of the plaintiff by her representative. This is especially true if there is evidence of a pattern of such action in the past. Investigators did note the 90-bed, for-profit assisted living center has been cited seven times in the last four years for deficiencies related to care. Among those citations were failure to provide care and services appropriate for a patient’s needs after hospitalization, failure to keep a drug cart locked and failure to maintain accurate records of patient medication.
Patient restraints are something that is supposed to be used extremely sparingly, if at all. The key is that it must be for the benefit of the patient – not the caregiver. The use of physical restraints in nursing homes has dropped 40 percent in recent years, as the industry has placed greater emphasis on eliminating what was once common practice. Overall, about 6 percent of patients were physically restrained in 2006, which is a drop from nearly 10 percent four years earlier.
American Nurse Today outlines the different types of restraints (including chemical restraints, which are on the rise) and the fact that they are generally to be considered a very last alternative – and only for a brief period of time.
Ample research has shown physical restraints generally aren’t safe and don’t decrease the risk of injury. Further, methods may be extremely harmful to patients, increasing both chances of physical and emotional suffering. They may be at increased risk of infections, bed sores and strangulation. They may also suffer loss of mobility and strength, as well as stiffness and loss of lower bone mass. Incontinence and constipation are possible results as well.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Caretaker accused of using duct tape to tie up 67-year-old woman, July 13, 2018, By Linda Trischitta, Sun-Sentinel
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More Issues with Priority Power Restoration List in South Florida Nursing Homes, July 5, 2018, Palm Beach Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Blog