The following case scenario is an examples of the use of chemical restraint:

Mr. Jones is a 65 year old man who is being evaluated in the emergency room after a fall with a possible fracture. He is experiencing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and is yelling and cursing at the staff. The nurses believe that they cannot spare a staff member to stay with the Mr. Jones and do not care to be verbally abused. They ask the physician for an order to medicate him with Ativan and Haldol IM. They administer the medication to Mr. Jones who sleeps through the remainder of the shift. The nurses document that the medication was effective and continue to monitor his vital signs. The use of chemical restraint in this case may have been needed to protect Mr. Jones from harm if he was trying to get out of bed or physically threatening to staff. This was not the case and there was no documentation that other interventions were used to calm this patient. It may be true that the nurses did not have time to sit with Mr. Jones but chemical restraint can never be a substitute for adequate staffing. It was also not documented that Mr. Jones was offered medication by mouth and refused. This is an additional liability issue for the nursing staff and physician.


This month’s civil topic is Chemical Restraints. Topics covered are:

  • Documentation and Medications Used (11/3/14)
  • Verbal Abuse Scenario  (11/10/14)
  • Bipolar Case Scenario (11/17/14)
  • Nursing Home Case Scenario (11/24/14)

Note: To see all posts in this topic, click here

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