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Intensive care unit, Italy, Patient safety, Physical restraint, Prevalence



  1. Mattiussi, Elisa MSN, BSN, RN
  2. Piani, Tommaso MSN, BSN, RN
  3. De Marco, Alice BSN, RN
  4. Portolan, Camilla BSN, RN
  5. Castriotta, Luigi MD
  6. Danielis, Matteo PhD, MSN, BSN, RN


Background: The use of physical restraints (PRs) varies across countries and clinical settings, with intensive care units having the highest frequency. Although many investigations on the use of PRs have been conducted worldwide, few studies are reported in the Italian context.


Objectives: The aims of this study were to describe PR rates and types and to observe the factors associated with PR use.


Methods: In this observational study, 2 methods were used to collect data: direct observation and review of patients' documentations.


Results: We performed 328 observations on 146 critically ill patients. Physical restraints were applied in 56.7% (n = 186) of these observations. Bilateral wrist ties were used for most PR episodes (n = 135, 72.6%), followed by unilateral wrist ties (12.9%). The most documented reasons were preventing patients from self-extubation (n = 93, 50.0%) and preserving indwelling lines and tubes (n = 60, 32.2%). In the multivariate logistic regression analysis, patients who were cared for during the night shift were almost 4 times more likely to be restrained than patients in the morning shifts (odds ratio, 3.84; P = .001) and patients with endotracheal tube were 3.5 times more likely to be restricted than spontaneously breathing patients (odds ratio, 3.59; P < .001).


Discussions: Physical restraints are commonly used among critically ill patients in Italian intensive care units. There is a need to share the metrics for an efficient and accurate measurement of PR usage and trends and to document the reason for restraints, type of restraints, timeframe, and decision-making criteria.