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01-02-2011 | Original Paper | Uitgave 1/2011

Journal of Child and Family Studies 1/2011

Black Boxing Restraints: The Need for Full Disclosure and Consent

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 1/2011
Wanda K. Mohr, Michael A. Nunno


In this article we discuss the necessity of fully informing patients and their families of what constitutes physical interventions and their attendant risks under the established principles and obligations of informed consent. After a brief review of the elements of informed consent and the nature of the duty to advise patients and their families of treatment risks, we argue that physical interventions are an unvalidated treatment for aggressive and violent behavior and should be used only as a safety intervention. We focus our discussion on the informed consent issues for school aged children, adolescents, and emancipated minors and contend that if restraints are used they must pose less risk than the behavior they are trying to alleviate. We also opine that if restraints are misused by mental health or child welfare treatment settings, then their misuse may be considered a subject of a patient maltreatment, abuse, criminal or civil action. A central thesis of the article is that informed consent must be seen as an integral and dynamic process of treatment. We recommend strategies that gain parental permission and child assent, that view informed consent as a dynamic and individualized process that aids and supports the therapeutic relationship, and that stress the importance of simplicity and clarity.

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