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Hospital Bed Restraints

Hospital bed restraints are a controversial subject. In some countries such as the UK they are frowned upon, but in other countries they are far more tolerated. Nobody likes to see somebody else restrained but there may be times when this is indeed necessary. Hospital bed restrains have been debated by many people over the years and there are many ethical implications.

Are Hospital Bed Restraints Ethical?

In most instances the patient is unable to give their consent for hospital bed restraints. In fact it is their lack of ability to make rational decisions that is the usual reason for the necessity of hospital bed restraints in the first place. It is usually the case that these restraints are used even though the patient does not want them; although they may have provided consent previously. This means that these restraints are infringing on the patientís ethical right of autonomy. They are being treated like a prisoner even though they have done nothing wrong. When we look at things this way the hospital bed restraints can appear very unethical indeed.

There is usually a good reason why hospital bed restraints have been ordered. In most cases the patient will be confused and at risk of causing damage to themselves or other people. This confusion could be the result of a head injury, illness, dementia, medication side effects, or waking up from surgery. During this time the patient is unable to make rational decisions and they may do things like pull out tubes or otherwise put their own safety in danger. Many would argue that this provides good justification for the use of hospital restraints Ė it is been done in the patientís own interests.

The Decision to Use Hospital Bed Restraints

Restraining a person against their will can be very upsetting for that person and those people who need to do the restraining. This is why it really should be avoided whenever possible. Even if a patient has given consent prior to surgery to be restrained when they come back to the recovery room they can still find it traumatic. In many instances though there will be no alternative because there is just too much risk of the patient causing themselves or other physical harm. The restraints can be justified by a utilitarian argument that it involves the least amount of harm.

It is possible for patients to cause harm to themselves while being held in restraints. It is the nurseís duty to prevent this can happen. This can be difficult because patients may tug very hard in an attempt to escape and this can cause damage to their wrists or other parts of the body. If the patient is very confused they could cause a lot of damage while trying to escape the restraints.

As well as bed restraints some hospitals will use drugs as a method to control patients. These antipsychotics and sedatives are also often given without the patients consent and have similar ethical considerations. There are those who would argue that these drugs may in fact be more unethical than hospital bed restraints.

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