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Learning About Physical Restraints

How can being restrained help your loved one?

Sometimes health professionals need to keep a person from moving around or grabbing things. This is called restraining someone.

It can be upsetting to see your loved one restrained and tied down. But doctors only do this when people are in danger of hurting themselves or others.

Restraints can keep someone from pulling out the intravenous (IV) lines that carry medicine into the body. They can also keep a person from removing medical equipment that's attached to his or her body. This equipment helps the doctor watch for changes in the person's health.

The doctor may use restraints to keep a person from scratching or rubbing wounds. Or to keep him or her from getting out of bed if it is not safe. And they may be used if someone gets upset because of a serious injury or emotional problem.

The doctor or nurse will remove the restraints as soon as it's safe.

What do you need to know about the use of restraints?

While your loved one is restrained, the doctor or nurse will:

  • Keep your loved one as comfortable as possible.
  • Check your loved one's vital signs (temperature, pulse, breath, and blood pressure).
  • Make sure your loved one is getting enough to eat and drink.
  • Help your loved one go to the washroom when needed.
  • Make sure the restraints are not blocking blood flow.

What can you do to help your loved one?

  • Stay with your loved one. People are sometimes upset when they're in the hospital. You can help your loved one feel calmer.
  • Don't undo the restraints for any reason. If you think they might be making your loved one uncomfortable, talk to the doctor or nurse.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.