ER patient

“If an ER patient (developmentally disabled) was inappropriately restrained, can a civil suit be filed?

There were no physical damages due to this restraint, the pt (very limited verbal communication skills) was left unattended without basic comfort needs met, nor were seizure precautions in place. His last visit to St. Agnes ER and subsequent admit was due to seizure activity related to an electrolyte imbalance. The charge nurse refused my request to see my son 3 times over more than an hour for an unknown reason and refused to give me an update on his condition (I am his legal conservator). There is no possibility of showing emotional damages.

Nathan’s Answer

I'm sorry to hear of what must have been a frustrating experience. On one hand, you know this is an urgent situation and you want updates; on the other hand, medical professionals need to do what is medically necessary for patient's well-being even if it is unsavory to the average onlooker.

If your son was restrained due to seizures, there must have been a determination made that he was being unsafe to himself and/or others. It is often the case where seizures are involved that the patient is restrained and no timely information is given to family members in the family room. The reasons are multitudinous ranging from the fact patient may be being whisked to an MRI scan, to the patient is being observed and a family member's presence might interfere with that process. If there were no physical damages and emotional damages could not be proven (especially difficult to show if patient was in and out of consciousness) then a civil suit is unlikely to prevail. Normally, nurses sit right outside the room in which patient is restrained so the patient is in fact being attended to even if no one is in the room at all times.

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