False imprisonment is perhaps one of the bigger issues that a CNA may have to deal with when relating to, mobilizing and ensuring the safety of patients that may be a risk to themselves or others and may not be able to communicate their distress effectively. Despite this difficulty you must be able to clearly define reasonable restraint and how it differs from false imprisonment.
What You’ll Learn About False Imprisonment During CNA Training
Why do we need to consider legal standards in CNA training?
CNA training teaches these legal standards to protect patients and medical staff. These standards are designed to detail and dictate appropriate and safe behaviors and workplace practices to the benefit of everyone in the medical facility.
For further information on legal standards and other legal concerns you may encounter in CNA training employment see our other articles on this topic.
What is false imprisonment?
False imprisonment is defined as the act of restraining or confining a person’s actions or movements without permission or authorization. Making the decision when to restrain a patient is easier said than done and is the cause of much confusion and vexation amongst CNAs and students in CNA training. This is not just a question of physical restraints it can also include impeding a patient’s rights to freedom and personal liberties. Patients of hospitals and nursing homes are able to leave the facility without permission and there are only extraordinary circumstances that allow nursing and nursing support staff to interfere with a patient’s right to leave, if you do stop them without proper authorization then it is false imprisonment.
When can I use physical restraints?
Physical restraints require a doctor’s specific authorization, even the threat of physical restraint is considered a legal offense. Physical restraints include any manual device or equipment that:
- Restricts movement of any or all body parts
- Cannot be easily removed
- Stops a patient from accessing their own body
Some commonly used physical restraints include:
- Vests and jackets
- Geri chairs or recliners
- Wrist, leg, ankle and arm restraints
- Hand covers or mitts
- Seat belts and safety belts
- Bed rails and barriers
- Enforced wearing of clothing that covers a specific problem site.
In addition to these commonly regarded restraints there are circumstances where a patient or resident is placed in a situation where they cannot move or access their own person. These situations include:
- Placing a resident or patient in a chair that they cannot get up from
- Firmly making a bed in such a way that the occupant cannot move
- Anything that obscures a patient’s lap whilst sitting in a wheel chair so that it cannot be removed
- Placing furniture to impede movement is a restraint
Any action that is deliberately intended to inhibit, prevent or impede the movement of a patient or resident is considered to be a restraint. This can even include necessary splints and alignment aids but these are not overt restrains, there is a standard doctor’s order for these items when they are required.
What is a Chemical restraint?
A chemical restraint is a medication that impedes the normal function or movement of a patient or resident. This includes sedatives and these are the responsibility of those in charge of a patient’s plan of care, which is supervising RNs and Doctors.