Use of Restraints in a General Hospital
Bella Bar-Cohen, Orly Rotem-Picker, Zvi Stern
Nursing Services and Administration, Hadassah University Medical Center, Jerusalem
28 in-patient units were surveyed during a 5-day period to determine the extent of the use of physical restraints in hospitalized patients. Information was gathered on the characteristics of restrained patients and indications for use and removal of restraints, patterns and means of restraints, monitoring, and written notations. 31 different patients (6% of those surveyed) were restrained in 13 units during the 5 days of the survey, an average of 15 (3%) daily.
Characteristics of restrained patients were: age 70 and over requiring emergency hospitalization, reduced level of consciousness, limitation of mobility, incontinence, history of 2 or more chronic diseases, requiring multiple drugs, and use of multiple medical devices. Bilateral, soft hand restraints were most often used to prevent patients from removing tubes. Nurses initiated the decision to apply or remove restraints, which were usually removed as the patients' condition improved. Written policies were lacking regarding monitoring and follow-up of restrained patients. Clearly written policies and increased staff awareness of potential hazards may reduce the use of restraints and the length of time they are employed.