A Patient Safety Culture and Reduced Use of Physical Constraints Leads to Better Safety Care

A study published by The Gerontologist found that nursing homes that focused on creating a culture of patient safety which involves using less physical restraints, resulted in lower mortality rates, lower rates of failure to rescue, decreased chances of medical errors, and more days between serious safety events. A culture of patient safety involves ensuring that the nursing home or hospital is engineered both physically and systematically to enhance the safety of the patients and residents. It also involves a blame-free environment in which individuals are able to report errors with fear of punishment. Lack of a culture of patient safety can lead to staff that is afraid of reporting mistakes, which leads to the increased use of physical restraints.

Physical restraints are a controversial care process used on individuals with difficulties transferring and with behavioral disorders. Nursing homes often resort to the simple method of using physical restraints to limit falls rather than attempting to fix the underlying problems in management that lead to these falls in the first place. In reality, physical restraints do not prevent falls. In fact, the study found that nursing homes that use less physical restraints report less falls per year. Physical restraints have also been shown to increase the likelihood of death, injuries, and functional decline. Nursing homes often resort to physical restraints because they are uneducated about better safety methods. Staff should be trained in teamwork, documentation, and reporting and discussing safety issues. Each resident has different health needs, and so a specific care plan should be adopted for each individual to prevent falls, rather than resorting to the use of physical restraints.

The study also found that the nursing homes that heavily rely on physical restraints and less on a patient safety culture also tend to be understaffed. Unfortunately, understaffing is a problem in most nursing homes, and so many nursing homes are not providing the proper quality of care for their residents to ensure their safety from falls and critical errors made by staff. The use of physical restraints due to understaffing is also a direct violation of a patient’s rights, and is simply inexcusable.

The results from this study show that there needs to be an obvious push in nursing homes towards building and the importance of adopting a proper patient safety culture and hiring enough properly trained staff to give quality care to the residents. A nursing home should not only provide resident autonomy, and a comfortable living environment, but also a safe culture to ensure that its residents are kept at the highest level of physical and mental well-being as possible.


If your loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect as a result of understaffing and improper use of physical restraints, please contact us today to see how we can help.