Does access to bed-chair pressure sensors reduce physical restraint use in the rehabilitative care setting?

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BackgroundThe common use of physical restraints in older people in hospitals and nursing homes has been associated with injurious falls, decreased mobility and disorientation. By offering access to bed-chair pressure sensors in hospitalized patients with perceived fall risk, nurses may be less inclined to resort to physical restraints, thereby improving clinical outcomes.Aims and objectivesTo investigate whether the access of bed-chair pressure sensors reduces physical restraint use in geriatric rehabilitation wards.DesignRandomized controlled trial.MethodsConsecutively, patients admitted to two geriatric wards specialized in stroke rehabilitation in a convalescent hospital in Hong Kong, and who were perceived by nurses to be at risk of falls were randomly assigned to intervention and control groups. For the intervention group subjects, nurses were given access to bed-chair pressure sensors. These sensors were not available to control group subjects, as in usual practice. The trial continued until discharge. The primary outcomes were the proportion of subjects restrained by trunk restraint, bedrails or chair-board and the proportion of trial days in which each type of physical restraint was applied. The secondary outcomes were the proportions of those who improved in the mobility and transfer domains of modified Barthel index on discharge and of those who fell.ResultsOne hundred and eighty subjects were randomized. Fifty (55·6%) out of the 90 intervention group subjects received the intervention. There was no significant difference between the intervention and control groups in the proportions and duration of having the three types of physical restraints. There was also no group difference in the chance of improving in mobility and transfer ability, and of having a fall.ConclusionAccess to bed-chair pressure sensor device neither reduced the use of physical restraints nor improved the clinical outcomes of older patients with perceived fall risk.Relevance to clinical practiceThe provision of bed-chair pressure sensors may only be effective in reducing physical restraints when it is combined with an organized physical restraint reduction programme.

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