Outcomes following physical restraint reduction programs in two acute care hospitals

Lorraine C. Mion, Joyce Fogel, Satinderpal Sandhu, Robert M. Palmer, Ann F. Minnick, Teresa Cranston, Francois Bethoux, Cindy Merkel, Cathy S. Berkman, Rosanne Leipzig

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37 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Physical restraint rates can be reduced safely in long term care settings, but the strategies used to prevent wandering, falls, and patient aggression have not been tested for their effectiveness in preventing therapy disruption. A restraint reduction program (RRP) consisting of four core components (administrative, educational, consultative, and feedback) was implemented in 1998-1999 in 14 units at two acute care hospitals in geographically distant cities. METHODS: The RRP was targeted at units with prevalence rates of > or = 4% for non-intensive care units (non-ICUs) and > or = 25% for ICUs, as well as two additional units. The RRP was implemented by an interdisciplinary team consisting of geriatricians and nurse specialists. RESULTS: Of the 16,605 admissions to the RRP units, 2,772 cases received RRP consultations. Only six units (four of seven general units and two of six ICUs) demonstrated a relative reduction of > or = 20% in the physical restraint use rate. No increase in secondary outcomes of patient falls and therapy disruptions (patient-initiated discontinuation or dislodgment of therapeutic devices) occurred, injury rates were low, and no deaths occurred as a direct result of either a fall or therapy disruption event. DISCUSSION: Given the minimal success in the ICU settings, further studies are needed to determine effective nonrestraint strategies for critical care patients. ICU clinicians need to be persuaded of the favorable risk-to-benefit ratio of alternatives to physical restraint before they will change their practice patterns. SUMMARY: Efforts to identify more effective interventions that match patient needs and to identify non-clinician factors that affect physical restraint use are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-618
Number of pages14
JournalThe Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2001


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