Hospital Settles Restraint Lawsuit For $200,000
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 3, 2005
LANSDALE, PENNSYLVANIA--In what the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia called the first case of its kind, a hospital has settled a civil lawsuit over its alleged improper use of physical and chemical restraints on 91 patients over a six-month period.
Central Montgomery Medical Center admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to pay the federal government $200,000 and hire an outside monitor to review how restraints are used at the 125-bed acute care hospital.
State Health Department officials inspecting the hospital in February 2002 found a number of restraint-related problems, including four cases in which patients had been restrained for much longer than doctors had ordered.
In one case, according to the Intelligencer, a patient had been placed in and out of restraints for 15 days, despite doctor's orders that the patient be restrained for just three days.
In August of 2002, a patient with Alzheimer's dementia died of "postural asphyxiation" when she apparently tried to climb out of a bed while still strapped into a vest restraint that was tied to the bed frame. A forensic pathologist testified that when Jeanne W. Price, 79, became stuck on the side of the bed, the vest squeezed her chest to the point that she could no longer breathe.
Most restraint-related lawsuits are filed against nursing homes.
"This case and 20 years of research show that restraints can lead to tragedy, and we want to make sure providers use them as a last resort," said U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan, when the settlement was announced on July 25.
"Hospital settles restraint case" (Philadelphia Inquirer)
"Hospital to pay $200,000 fine" (The Intelligencer)