Why handcuffing patients in hospitals is not a good idea?


  • An unconscious patient will not escape!
  • Patients with extensive injuries are not likely to be able to escape without making a scene
  • Preventing a limb from movement is very annoying and will not help the patient rest or sleep
  • Preventing a limb from movement for extended periods of time is very dangerous as he/she might develop deep venous thrombosis (DVT) in the fixed limb
  • Prevents the patient from going to the toilet if he can. And if unattended a patient can soil himself.
  • Handcuff neuropathy could develop due to bruising of a superficial branch of the radial nerve at the wrist
  • Psychologically, it is very ignominious, if not traumatizing, especially when patient is in a ward full of other patients.
  • A potential abuse situation were police guards might cross the line and put patients in a psychologically damaging conditions.
  • Stands in the way of using a cardiac defibrillator.

Where is the medical staff in all this, you might ask? This needs another post.

Note: Psychiatric restraint of violent and aggressive patients is very different. As the patient is given injectable sedative (neuroleptic) and patient is restrained for the minimum amount of time needed till the sedative works. Which is usually 30 minutes to one hour maximum.