Restraints in a medical setting are items that limit a patient's movement. Restraints can help keep a person from getting hurt or doing harm to others, including their caregivers. They are used as a last resort.
There are many types of restraints. They can include:
Other ways to restrain a patient include:
Restraints may be used to keep a person in proper position and prevent movement or falling during surgery or while on a stretcher.
Restraints can also be used to control or prevent harmful behavior.
Sometimes hospital patients who are confused need restraints so that they do not:
Restraints should not cause harm or be used as punishment. Health care providers should first try other methods to control a patient and ensure safety. Restraints should be used only as a last choice.
Caregivers in a hospital can use restraints in emergencies or when they are needed for medical care. When restraints are used, they must:
A nurse who has special training in using restraints can begin to use them. A doctor or another health care provider must also be told restraints are being used. The doctor or other provider must then sign a form to allow the continued use of restraints.
Patients who are restrained need special care to make sure they:
Patients who are restrained also need to have their blood flow checked to make sure the restraints are not cutting off their blood flow. They also need to be watched carefully so that the restraints can be removed as soon as the situation is safe.
If you are not happy with how a loved one is being restrained, talk with someone on the medical team.
Restraint use is regulated by national and state agencies. If you want to find out more about restraints, contact The Joint Commission at www.jointcommission.org. This agency oversees how hospitals are run in the United States.
Safe client environment and restraints. In: Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC. Clinical Nursing Skills. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Prentice Hall; 2011: chap 7.
The Joint Commission. The Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals: Human Resources. Updated December 24, 2009. Accessed January 29, 2014.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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