Chest 155 (3):617-625 (2018)
AbstractDespite the lack of evidence for their effectiveness, the use of physical restraints for patients is widespread. The best ethical justification for restraining patients is that it prevents them from harming themselves. We argue that even if the empirical evidence supported their effectiveness in achieving this aim, their use would nevertheless be unethical, so long as well known exceptions to informed consent fail to apply. Specifically, we argue that ethically justifiable restraint use demands certain necessary and sufficient conditions. These conditions are that the physician obtain informed consent for their application, that their application be medically appropriate, and that restraints be the least liberty-restricting way of achieving the intended benefit. It is a further question whether their application is ever medically appropriate, given the dearth of evidence for their effectiveness.
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