Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 44, Issue 8, pp 1296–1298 | Cite as

Physical restraint: time to let go

  • Lisa BurryEmail author
  • Louise Rose
  • Bara Ricou
What's New in Intensive Care

How common is the use of physical restraint?

Physical restraint, defined as any physical or mechanical device, material, or equipment immobilizing or obstructing a person’s ability to move freely [1], includes 2-point or 4-point wrist or leg restraints, waist or chest restraints, and mittens. Although the international prevalence of physical restraint in the intensive care unit (ICU) setting is highly variable [2], in some countries use is ubiquitous, particularly for mechanically ventilated patients. For example, in a survey of physicians representing 121 ICUs in France, 82% reported more than 50% of mechanically ventilated patients were restrained at least once [3]. In Canada, a period prevalence survey found 53% of 711 mechanically ventilated patients were physically restrained for an average of 4 days [4]. Unfortunately, variation in reporting of physical restraint incidence or prevalence (e.g., proportion of patients, % days, number of restraint orders/patient days) makes...


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature and ESICM 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sinai Health SystemUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Sunnybrook Health Sciences CentreTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Intensive Care Unit, Department of Anaesthesiology, Pharmacology and Intensive CareGeneva University Hospitals and University of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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