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The Courant Report: When physical restraints kill


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The Hartford Courant has published an important investigative report revealing that an estimated 500-1500 people die each decade as a result of being restrained in mental hospitals, group homes, and facilities for people with mental retardation. A disproportionate number of those who are killed are children. The report suggests a number of factors that contribute to the high death rate, including these:
  • Understaffing
  • Poorly trained staff
  • Staff cover-ups of evidence and lack of police access to the scene of death
  • Failure to report deaths outside of the institution/facility
  • The unwillingness of courts to prosecute those responsible
  • The unwillingness of juries to believe other patients who may be the only witness to the deaths
  • Vague autopsy reports regarding cause of death, making it nearly impossible to keep national statistics on death rates
  • Lack of regulation and oversight of restraint procedures/death reports at state and federal levels
  • The self-serving interest of the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). This commission receives its funding from the same hospitals it reviews for accreditation!
  • There has been a wide range of responses to The Courant's report including a call for Congressional hearings.

If you would like to read the report and you have access to the Internet, check out The Courant's web site at www.courant.com where you will find the full text as well as a forum to express your opinions on the subject of restraints. If you do not have access to the Internet, call the National Empowerment Center at 1-800-power2u (800-769-3728) for our information packet on this report.