[Restraint in hospitals - a sore point]

Gesundheitswesen. 2012 Dec;74(12):812-7. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1311630. Epub 2012 May 21.
[Article in German]


Restraints are used for several medical situations. Their use in restraining patients in psychiatric care and nursing homes is widely debated, whereas those in hospitals are rarely discussed. This is a particular cause of concern because restraints are prescribed under various circumstances in hospitals and yet they have an ambivalent character because they are viewed as a custodial measure. The aim of this paper is to examine the civil law legislation on restraints and medical reasons for employing restraints in German hospitals. I will argue that the use of restraints should only be performed after a thorough assessment of the patient and his or her wishes. As a vulnerable group, patients are dependent on clinical staff members, who must in all circumstances do their best to respect the autonomy and rights of their patients. Awareness of health-care personnel regarding the use of restraints should be increased and interdisciplinary collaboration among judges, clinicians and nurses must be bridged and enhanced in order to improve the flow and exchange of information on this very ethical and moral issue.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Germany
  • Hospitalization / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Legislation, Hospital*
  • Patient Isolation / ethics*
  • Patient Isolation / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Patient Participation / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Restraint, Physical / ethics*
  • Restraint, Physical / legislation & jurisprudence*