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Restraint has recently become an important legal and clinical issue in England and Wales with the introduction of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards introduced by the Mental Health Act 2007. The requirements of these two new pieces of legislation are complex, and therefore pose major challenges to the provision of high quality and patient-centred care, support and treatment in a range of health and social care settings. In this paper, the legal and ethical aspects of physical restraint in an acute medical care environment are considered, and practical guidance is provided to individuals adopting methods of restraint to care for general hospital patients. Aspects of the Introduction below are written in the first person to reflect the personal experiences of the lead author. © 2010, SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Clinical Ethics

Publication Date





16 - 21