Pediatric behavioral health admissions to children’s hospitals for disposition planning are steadily increasing. These children may exhibit violent behaviors, which can escalate to application of physical limb restraints for safety. Using quality improvement methodology, we sought to decrease physical restraint use on children admitted to our children’s hospital for behavioral health conditions from a baseline mean of 2.6% of behavioral health patient days to <1%.
We included all children ≥3 years of age admitted to our hospital medicine service with a primary behavioral health diagnosis from July 1, 2016, to February 1, 2020. A multidisciplinary team, formed in July 2018, tested interventions based on key drivers targeted toward our aim. The primary outcome measure was the percent of behavioral health patient days on which physical restraints were ordered. The balancing measure was the percent of patient days with a staff injury event. Statistical process control charts were used to view and analyze data.
Our cohort included 3962 consecutive behavioral health patient encounters, encompassing a total of 9758 patient days. A 2-year baseline revealed physical restraint orders placed on 2.6% of behavioral health patient days, which was decreased to 0.9% after interventions and has been sustained over 19 months without any change in staff injuries.
Team-based quality improvement methodology was associated with a sustained reduction in physical restraint use on children admitted for behavioral health conditions to our children’s hospital. These results indicate that physical restraint use can be safely reduced in children’s hospitals.