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Assumptions to be Challenged

•Seclusion and restraints are therapeutic

•Seclusion and restraints keep people safe

•Seclusion and restraints are not meant to be punishment

•Staff know how to recognize potentially violent situations

[Facts About Seclusion and Restraint]

•Seclusion and restraints are not therapeutic. There is actually no evidence-based research that supports the idea that restraints are therapeutic.

•Seclusion and restraints do not keep people safe. The harm is well documented; not only the physical harm, but also the emotional and mental harm. Restraints actually harm and can cause death. Broken bones and cardiopulmonary complications are associated with the use of seclusion and restraint (FDA, 1992; NYS OMH, 1994).

•Even though most staff would say that seclusion and restraints are not used as punishment, 60-75 percent of consumers view it as punishment for refusal to take meds or participate in programs.

•Holzworth and Wills, 1999, conducted research on nurses’ decisions based on clinical cues with respect to patients’ agitation, self-harm, inclinations to assault others, and destruction of property. Nurses agreed only 22 percent of the time on what constituted a violent situation. The longer nurses have worked in mental health positively correlates with greater consistency in determining potentially violent situations. 

•In 1998, the Hartford Courant completed a series of investigative reports concerning the use of seclusion and restraints and found an alarming number of deaths. The majority of deaths related to seclusion and restraint are a result of asphyxiation or cardiac-related issues.

•Even more disturbing was that many of the deaths were unreported. Few States require the reporting and investigation of a death in a private or State psychiatric facility. The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health estimated that the annual number of deaths range from 50 to 150 per year—which translates into one to three deaths every week (Weiss, 1998)

from Roadmap to Seclusion and Restraint Free Mental Health