Patient Restraints and Other Alternatives
What are Restraints?
A restraint is anything that prevents or limits a patient from being able to move their arms, legs
and/or body freely. Common types of restraints include soft mitts and soft wrist or ankle
restraints. A soft mitt is a large glove that covers the hand. A soft restraint is a device that is
placed on the wrist or ankle with Velcro.
Why are Restraints Used?
Restraints are used when there is behavior that causes immediate danger to the physical safety of
the patient, a staff member or others. A soft mitt prevents the patient from being able to grasp
things, but they are still able to move their arms. Soft wrist and ankle restraints may be used to
prevent a patient from interfering with cares; such as pulling at an IV or other tubes or removing
When are Restraints Used?
Restraints are only used after all other options have been tried. These can include:
ξ A bed or chair alarm.
ξ Skin “sleeves” to limit access to IVs and other devices.
ξ Comfortable room temperature and minimal noise.
ξ Intentional rounding. This includes using the bathroom, repositioning, and checking on
pain control and comfort on a regular basis.
ξ Encourage family and friends to provide company, distraction and other activities.
ξ Remind the patient of where they are, and why they are here as needed
ξ Provide regular activity, such as sitting up in a chair or walking in the hallway (as able).
ξ Remove any lines, tubes, and drains that are not needed.
ξ Constant observation
o Video monitoring
o Personal safety attendant
How Can I Support the Patient While Restraints Are in Use?
ξ The patient’s nurse can explain to you why the restraints were placed and what needs to
happen to have them removed.
ξ Help orient the patient to their surroundings:
o Who you are
o What day it is
o Where they are
o Why they are restrained
ξ Offer comfort. This may include holding their hand, talking to them, and/or notifying the
nursing staff of any needs.
ξ The patient’s nurse will be assessing the patient regularly.
When Will the Restraints be Removed?
The restraints will be removed as soon as possible and depends on if the patient is able to comply
with the plan of care. This may be when all of the lines, tubes, and/or drains are removed, or
when the patient is able to follow directions.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #6698.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 8/2015 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5055