Patient Restraints Use Reduced Through Use of Consultation Program

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A new study in the journal Perspectives in Psychiatric Care reveals that when an outside professional mental health consultation team worked closely with the staff, providing better staff training and teaching specific interventions to be used with patients diagnosed with both a mental illness and a developmental disability, the use of restraints was eliminated for these patients over a two-year period.

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Researchers, led by Michael J. Sclafani, Nurse Clinician and Assistant Professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, worked with the staff and patients at a regional psychiatric hospital to approach daily conflicts with high-risk patients in a manner different from what they had been doing. Through better staff training and ward meetings, positive reinforcement with patients, establishing support groups, and new patient-centered approaches, unit staff was able to head off episodes where previously restraints were necessary. Once the staff was committed to approaching the patients' individual needs, the use of restraints became a last resort and the hospital environment was greatly improved for both the staff and patients.

"Our study revealed the success of a psychiatric consultation team working together with a hospital-based treatment team to understand the needs of a particular population," the authors conclude. "This information can be the basis for making changes on the unit and designing research studies to decrease, and eliminate if possible, the use of restraints."

This study is published in the January 2008 issue of the journal Perspectives in Psychiatric Care.

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