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On-line version ISSN 2223-6279
Print version ISSN 0379-8577


KALULA, Sebastiana Z.  and  PETROS, Sabela G.. Use of physical restraint in hospital patients: A descriptive study in a tertiary hospital in South Africa. Curationis [online]. 2016, vol.39, n.1, pp.1-8. ISSN 2223-6279.

BACKGROUND: The use of physical restraint in patient management is a common and emotive issue, and has legal and ethical dimensions. OBJECTIVE: To document the prevalence of physical restraint use, patient characteristics associated with physical restraint use, and nurses' and doctors' knowledge and perceptions towards the practice. METHODS: A cross-sectional study of 572 patients, of whom 132 were physically restrained, was conducted in acute wards of a tertiary hospital. Data were collected on the 132 physically restrained patients. Fifty-nine doctors and 159 nurses completed a specially constructed questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were derived and expressed as numbers and percentages. RESULTS: Prevalence of restraint use was 23% (132/572). The distribution in acute wards was: medical 54.5%; surgical 44.7%; maternity 0.8%; psychiatry none. Mean age (SD) of the restrained patients was 49 years (20.5); 53.8% were male. The commonest types of restraints used were bed rails 93% and wrist belts 12%. Restraints were used largely to protect medical devices and as protection from harm. Less than 15% of the nurses reported having received training and 36% of the doctors reported having received some guidance on the use of restraints. Only a minority of nurses and doctors knew of a hospital policy on restraint use. Documentation on the prescription and indication for the use of restraint was poor. CONCLUSION: Prevalence of restraint use is high and poorly coordinated. A policy on the use of restraint and comprehensive guidelines should be developed to guide health care practitioners in the management of patients where restraint cannot be avoided.

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