Holding and restraining children for clinical procedures within an acute care setting: an ethical consideration of the evidence

Nursing Inquiry 22 (2):157-167 (2015)
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Abstract

This critical reflection on the ethical concerns of current practice is underpinned by a systematic synthesis of current evidence focusing on why and how children are held or restrained for clinical procedures within acute care and the experiences of those present when a child is held against their wishes. Empirical evidence from a range of clinical settings internationally demonstrates that frequently children are held for procedures to be completed; younger children and those requiring procedures perceived as urgent are more likely to be held. Parents and health professionals express how holding children for procedures can cause feelings of moral distress expressed as uncertainty, guilt and upset and that this act breaches the trusting and protective relationship established with children. Despite this, children's rights and alternatives to holding are not always respected or explored. Children's experiences and perceptions are absent from current literature. Children and young people have a moral right to have their voice and protests heard and respected and for these to inform judgements of their best interests and the actions of health professionals. Without robust evidence, debate and recognition that children are frequently held against their wishes in clinical practice for procedures which may not be urgent, children's rights will continue to be compromised.

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