Nursing: Geriatric Special Topics: Physical Restraints and Side Rails in Acute Care Settings

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About the Course

Target Audience: The target audience for this education program is nurses who want to enhance their knowledge of the appropriate use of physical restraints and side rails in both the acute and critical care settings.

Course Overview: Despite the federal regulations placed on hospitals since 1999, eliminating the use of physical restraints for the management of patients in acute non-psychiatric settings has remained challenging. It is typical for health care professionals to use physical restraints and/or side rails to protect the patient or others. However, the use of physical restraints or side rails for the involuntary immobilization of the patient may not only be an infringement of the patient's rights, but can also result in patient harm. This education program describes the consequences of physical restraint use and how to implement nursing interventions that promote alternatives to restraint use. 


  • Discuss legal issues pertaining to physical restraint use.
  • Identify reasons given by healthcare professionals for using physical restraints.
  • Describe interventions to reduce the use of physical restraints. Develop individualized care plan strategies that promote alternatives to restraint use through evidence-based care for falls, delirium, nutrition, medications, sleep, pain, and function.

About the Author

Cheryl M. Bradas, Satinderpal K. Sandhu, and Lorraine C. Mion

Cheryl M. Bradas, PhD, RN, GCNS-BC, CNRN is a geriatric clinical nurse specialist at Metro Health Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio.

Satinderpal K. Sandhu, MD is a primary care physician in Syracuse, Virginia.

Lorraine C. Mion, PhD, RN, FAAN is the independent foundation professor of nursing and director of Vanderbilt Center for Gerontological Nursing Excellence, Vanderbilt School of Nursing, Nashville, Tennessee.

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