Justice chancellor: Rules for restraining patients need legal clarity

A hospital bed.
A hospital bed. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

According to Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise, legal clarity is required as soon as possible for situations, where patients may need to be restrained while receiving medical care.

In a letter to Minister of Health and Labor Peep Peterson (SDE), Madise said, that currently the law only allows restraint, or physical restraint to be applied to patients, who are receiving involuntary treatment in hospital psychiatric departments.

"Even a person, who is normally calm and serene can develop a state of mind as a result of intoxication for example, whereby their behavior endangers themselves or others," Madise wrote.

There have been prior instances in which patients receiving medical care were restrained, though doing so remains illegal. For example, in one case several years ago, an elderly man in Valga Hospital was restrained by being tied to a bed. The North Estonia Medical Center has also previously admitted to tying patient's hands to restrain them in exceptional cases.

Madise also highlighted the lack of clear guidelines and limited legal possibilities for the restraint of medical patients in a letter sent to the Ministry of Social Affairs four years ago.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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