A woman is suing a nursing home in Virginia, alleging her 84-year-old mother was tied to a wheelchair with bed sheets and injected with a powerful narcotic drug in an effort to keep her quiet. The physical and chemical restraints forced on the elderly woman were reportedly kept in place overnight.
Such information, if proven, would likely be a violation of criminal laws as well as the patient’s civil and resident rights. Specifically, patients have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, to be free from abuse and neglect and to be free from restraints. Nursing homes aren’t allowed to use physical restraints, such as side rails, or chemical restraints, such as drugs, to discipline patients or for the staff’s own convenience.
The Virginian-Pilot reports local police were not contacted about the case and there haven’t been any criminal charges filed. However, the state’s health department received to complaints regarding the alleged incident, indicating at least two patients were placed in restraints the nursing home. Ultimately, the department devised a correctional plan.
The nursing home abuse lawsuit alleges that the operators and administrators of the nursing home failed to notify the patient’s daughter of the alleged incident. Furthermore, the two nurses who were brave enough to come forward and report the incident were terminated from their positions. The review that was conducted thereafter by the facility was allegedly kept under wraps and didn’t actually delve deeply into the facts. Plaintiff alleges the sole purpose of the review was to minimize whatever negative or adverse media attention the incident would likely garner. Plaintiff alleges that at the same time her mother was being restrained, at least one other resident was tied down to her wheelchair with similar restraints.
An attorney representing the plaintiff alleges the nursing home actively sought to cover-up the incident and suppress any information related to it. Plaintiff doesn’t intend to remain silent – and we applaud her, as well as the two nurses who risked their livelihoods to come forward and bring this alleged wrongdoing to light. We hope they seek appropriate legal redress as well. Far too often, incidents like this go unreported, unchallenged and unpunished.
Plaintiff is seeking $17 million in compensation, with defendants including the nursing home, the head administrator, the two nurses who allegedly participated in the restraint, the director of nursing, and the management company for the nursing home.
An administrator for the nursing home declined to speak at length about the injury lawsuit, but said the staff members who were fired were let go because they posted the allegations on social media. The director called this action “illegal.” She further stated in an email that there was ample evidence to indicate the allegations were false, and that the staffers who were terminated were motivated by a desire to make trouble for a boss.
However, the health department’s plan of correction has included a number of steps, including requirements to train workers on how to recognize abuse and how to report it. Additionally, the two nurses who were accused of imposing the restraints were reportedly instructed on the appropriate use and administration of patient restraints. Although the nursing home’s cooperation in those directives was not to be considered an admission of or agreement with the findings of state investigators, it is required by federal and state law.
The patient in question suffers from various degrees of cognitive impairment, and she relied on staff for nearly everything, including to eat, bathe and dress. She was reportedly bound to her wheelchair for a period of 12 hours and had urinated and had a bowel movement during that time. Another nurse discovered her and informed a supervisor she wanted to release her. However, the lawsuit says, the supervisor instructed the nurse to “let her sit in it.”
The woman’s daughter was informed of the incident several days later in an anonymous phone call from a staffer, who urged her to check on her mother’s well-being. Plaintiff explained her mother doesn’t understand why she was “punished” or what she “did wrong,” but she is now fearful of “doing something wrong” to upset the nursing staff.
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.
Lawsuit alleges nurses tied 84-year-old and injected a narcotic sedative at Chesapeake nursing home, Jan. 13, 2017, By Margaret Matray, The Virginian-Pilot
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