Outcomes for Hospitalized Aggressive and Violent Patients When Physical Restraints Are Introduced

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Background Hospital outcomes among patients acting aggressively or violently have not been extensively studied in the United States. Objectives The aims of the study are to determine rates of physical restraint use among hospitalized patients who are aggressive/violent and to characterize associations with mortality and utilization metrics. Design/Setting/Participants National Inpatient Sample databases from 2016 to 2019 were analyzed with multivariable regression to compare aggressive/violent patients in whom physical restraints were or were not used. Measures Prevalence of physical restraint use, in-hospital mortality, length of stay, and total hospital charges were measures. Results A total of 40,309 hospitalized patients were coded as having aggressive/violent behavior, of whom 4475 (11.1%) were physically restrained. Physically restrained patients were younger (mean age ± standard error, 42.6 ± 0.64 versus 45.7± 0.41; P < 0.01), more frequently male (71.0% versus 65.4%; P < 0.01), and had less comorbidity (Charlson Index score >3: 7.9% versus 12.5%; P < 0.01) than unrestrained patients. Patients with physical restraints had higher odds of in-hospital mortality (adjusted odds ratio, 2.4, confidence interval [CI], 1.0-5.7; P = 0.04) and lower odds of being discharged to home (adjusted odds ratio, 0.46; CI, 0.38-0.56; P < 0.01) compared with unrestrained patients. Longer hospital stays (adjusted mean difference, 4.1 days CI, 2.1-6.0; P < 0.01) and higher hospitalization charges (adjusted mean difference, $16,996; CI, 6883-27,110; P < 0.01) were observed for those who were physically restrained. Conclusions Physically restrained aggressive/violent patients had worse in-hospital outcomes compared with their unrestrained counterparts. Avoiding physical restraints whenever possible should be considered when managing this confrontational yet vulnerable patient population. When restraints are needed, providers must thoughtfully bear in mind heightened risks for worse outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-219
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of patient safety
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023


  • big data
  • hospitalization
  • physical restraints
  • violent patients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Leadership and Management


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