Across hospital settings, the application of restraints is commonly intended to enhance a patient’s safety and prevent accidental injury. Despite the use of restraints to promote patient safety, they may predispose patients to significant reductions in their health status and expose restrained patients to potentially life-threatening adverse events. In multiple studies, researchers have shown that restrained patients being treated with mechanical ventilation are not any safer than those who are unrestrained.

Most critically ill patients who experienced an unplanned extubation were physically restrained at the time of the event. Moreover, the application of restraints can contribute to heightened states of agitation, complications from immobilization, strangulation, and increases in a patient’s length of stay. This evidence undermines the benefit of restraint use. Yet, acute and critical care nurses routinely apply restraints without evidence-based resources to inform their clinical decision making about the appropriateness of restraining a patient.

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