Physical Restraint Use in the Hospital Setting: Unresolved Issues and Directions for Research

Although the use of physical restraint has declined in nursing homes, the practice remains widespread in hospitals. The use of physical restraint in hospitals was reviewed to identify the current clinical, legal, and ethical issues and the implications for policy and further research. Clinicans use physical restraints to prevent patient falls, to forestall disruption of therapy, or to control disruptive behavior, but they vary in how they determine to institute these restraints. The evidence to support the reasons for their determinations is not compelling. Fear of litigation remains a powerful motivator. The ethical dilemma of autonomy versus beneficence has not been resolved satisfactorily for patients in this setting. The lack of large-scale studies in any of these areas makes it difficult for policy makers to determine whether it is necessary to address hospital physical restraint practices through additional regulation.

Author(s): Lorraine C. Mion; Ann Minnick; Robert Palmer; Marshall B. Kapp; Karen Lamb

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Volume 74, Issue 3 (pages 411–433)
Published in 1996