BIG STONE GAP, Va. – An innovative program that has dramatically decreased the use of patient restraints at Lonesome Pine Hospital will be featured in a nationwide Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations broadcast.

Joint Commission representatives were in Big Stone Gap recently to interview members of the LPH medical-surgical staff that developed the hospital’s restraint program. The interviews will be broadcast July 16 to participating hospitals around the country as part of the JCAHO’s Best Practice Model Nationwide video series.

“Twenty years ago, the use of restraints with confused, elderly patients was almost a given,” said Vanessa Jessee, Vice President of Clinical Services at Lonesome Pine. “While restraints helped prevent patient falls, they also led to higher rates of pneumonia, constipation and depression.

“Through the innovative program our staff has developed, we’ve been able to reduce the use of restraints without increasing our fall rate.”

The LPH program relies on diversionary activities instead of restraints to keep patients in bed. Activity boxes filled with books and puzzles, blankets covered with buttons, zippers, snaps and pockets, varnished boards with doorknobs, key locks, dead bolts and a combination lock and even stacks of washcloths to fold are used by the LPH staff to keep patients focused.

Tonnie Carroll, unit director of LPH’s medical-surgical pediatric department, said techniques as simple as playing soft music or allowing patients to bring familiar objects from home can help keep patients calm and reduce the need for restraints.

“Restraints used to be the first option,” Carroll said. “Now we feel like we’ve failed if we have to use them.”


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