Rethinking our Medical Restraint Chair Policies

Written by: Phillip E. Friduss, Esq.

So, you have a restraint chair policy. Quite often, our healthcare policies are two-fold, one part governing law enforcement initiated restraints, the other dictating a different set of rules for the medically initiated restraint situations. This quick blog raises the question of why ever it is that today there would be a difference in the rounding requirements for these two scenarios.

Institutional policies vary across the county, with greater medical supervision required on the medically imposed chair-restrained inmate than that of the case of law enforcement initiated restraint. After initial medical review, here the differences can be between making 15 minute rounds (medical) and every-hour rounds (law enforcement).

But, why? This may have made sense in the 70’s because there was little discussion about why it is inmates every so often (not to overstate the case) die in restraint chairs. But, today we should know better. Today, we know that many of these law enforcement initiated restraint chair situations result from mental health, downward spiraling, sudden death, excited delirium-like conditions. Knowing this, it makes little sense to differentiate between policies, based on who put who in the chair and/or why.

Let us take another look at our restraint chair policies. In the unlikely event we think there would be too much strain now and again on staff – work it into the numbers come budget time. Let us continue our mission to provide the highest care possible to our inmate population, which is why we are here in the first place.