Understanding Restraints

Restraints help keep patients as safe as possible. This handout may help answer some of your questions. If you have any other questions or concerns, talk to the health care provider.

Why Restraints Are Used

Some medications or illnesses can cause confusion. A patient may not remember where he or she is or why he or she is there. Restraints help keep patients from harming themselves. Restraints can help prevent such things as:

  • Falling out of a bed or chair

  • Wandering out of a safe area

  • Removing tubes or bandages

  • Scratching at wounds or bandages


How Restraints Are Used

Many types of restraints are available. Each type has a purpose. Very strict guidelines say how a restraint can be used, and for how long. Health care providers should do the following:

  • Use restraints only after other alternatives have been tried.

  • Choose the least limiting restraint possible.

  • Check the skin under the restraint often.

  • Keep a call button within the patient’s reach when a restraint is in place.

  • Remove the restraint as soon as it is no longer needed.

  • Preserve the patient’s dignity.


How You Can Help

  • Know that your loved one will be assisted, if necessary, in doing everything he or she needs. This includes eating, bathing, and using the toilet.

  • Once restraints are used, never remove them or loosen them yourself. If you have a concern, speak with the nurse on duty.