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Restraint in Order to Feed: Justifying a Lawful Policy for the UK

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In the UK, restraining medical patients in order to provide care is widely considered to be outmoded and difficult to justify. The prevailing clinical intuition that restraining patients is generally wrong (even when restraint is essential in order to provide artificial nutrition and hydration) has prompted us to develop a policy that is compatible with common law, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Human Rights Act 1998. The nature and scope of the problem are illustrated with clinical cases. These, in turn, serve to demonstrate the tension that arises between article 2, article 3 and article 8 rights, when incompetent patients are restrained in order to feed.

Affiliations: 1: Department of General and Geriatric Medicine, Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, UK; Imperial College School of Medicine, London, UK; 2: Department of Gastroenterology, St Mark's Hospital, Harrow, UK; Imperial College School of Medicine, London, UK


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