The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) recently released the results of a study that reveals nearly one in four mental health patients are restrained by straps, medication or isolation while in hospital. The study reviewed data from 30,000 mental health patients admitted to general and psychiatric hospitals between 2006 and 2010.
The August 24, 2011 edition of the Toronto Star covered an overview of the study, in which restraints were categorized as:
- Control by medication, including psychotropic drugs that alter behaviour (used 59 per cent of the time)
- Mechanical and physical restraints, including straitjackets, straps, bed restraints and staff (used 21 per cent)
- Seclusion, where the patient is confined to a room (used 20 per cent)
General hospitals were more likely to use restraints than psychiatric hospitals, particularly as they relate to methods like bed restraints and straps. The study speculates that general hospital staff have less experience with mental health patients and turn to the use of restraints for help. However, it should be noted that many hospitals have implemented policies that guide staff to use of restraints as a “last resort” and encourage restraint-free environments.
To read the online Toronto Star article, “Restraints used on one in four mental health patients”, go to www.thestar.com.