American Academy of Nursing

View all recommendations from this society

Released October 16, 2014

Don’t use physical restraints with an older hospitalized patient.

Restraints cause more problems than they solve, including serious complications and even death. Physical restraints are most often applied when behavioral expressions of distress and/or a change in medical status occur. These situations require immediate assessment and attention, not restraint. Safe, quality care without restraints can be achieved when multidisciplinary teams and/or geriatric nurse experts help staff anticipate, identify and address problems; family members or other caregivers are consulted about the patient’s usual routine, behavior and care; systematic observation and assessment measures and early discontinuation of invasive treatment devices are implemented; staff are educated about restraints and the organizational culture and structure support restraint-free care.


These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a health professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician or nurse.

How The List Was Created

The American Academy of Nursing has convened a workgroup of member fellows who are leaders of professional nursing organizations representing a broad range of clinical expertise, practice settings and patient populations. The workgroup collaboratively identifies nursing/interdisciplinary interventions commonly used in clinical practice that do not contribute to improved patient outcomes or provide high value. An extensive literature search and review of practice guidelines is conducted for each new proposed recommendation for the list. The supporting evidence is then reviewed by the respective nursing organization(s) with the most relevant expertise to each recommendation. The Academy workgroup fellows narrow the recommendations through consensus, based on established criteria. The final recommendations are presented to the American Academy of Nursing’s Board of Directors for approval to be added to the Choosing Wisely list created by the Academy.

The American Academy of Nursing’s conflict of interests and disclosures policy can be found at www.AANnet.org.

Sources

Bourbonniere M, Strumpf NE, Evans LK, Maislin G. Organizational characteristics and restraint use of hospitalized nursing home residents. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2003 Aug;51(8):1079-84.

Evans LK, Cotter VT. Avoiding restraints in patients with dementia: understanding, prevention, and management are the keys. Am J Nurs. 2008 Mar;108(3):40-9; quiz 50.

Evans LK, Strumpf NE. Two decades of research on physical restraint: impact on practice and policy. In Hinshaw AS, Grady PA (Eds.), pp. 167-184. Shaping health policy through nursing research. New York (NY):Springer.

Minnick AF, Mion LC, Johnson ME, Catrambone C, Leipzig R. Prevalence and variation of physical restraint use in acute care settings in the US. J Nurs Scholarsh. 2007;39(1):30-7.