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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 July 19 - 25  > Campaign launched to end body restraints in psychiatric care
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2017 July 19 - 25 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Campaign launched to end body restraints in psychiatric care

July 20, 2017
A group of persons with mental disorders, their family members, bereaved families, and medical experts on July 19 held a press conference at the health ministry office building to announce that they started a campaign to end the use of physical restraints in psychiatric care in Japan.

The number of medical restraints at mental institutions where inpatients’ legs, arms, and wastes are strapped to beds has doubled over the past decade in Japan.

The mother of a man who died after being physically restrained in a Kanagawa mental hospital appealed to the press for the pursuit of truth regarding her son’s death.

Kelly Savage, 27, from New Zealand died in May of this year. His mother Martha said, “It was very shocking to me to see my son in restraints. I felt as if I was watching a medieval movie. Japan should do away with physical restrains in mental care.”

Kelly’s older brother living in Japan said that a doctor had told him that Kelly may have died of economy-class syndrome induced by restraints and a subsequent pulmonary embolism. The brother criticized the hospital for keeping refusing to accept his access to Kelly’s medical records.

The mother of a man in his 40s who died five days after he had been involuntarily hospitalized and physically tied down also talked about her heartbreaking feelings at the press conference.

One of the campaign initiators, Hasegawa Toshio, a professor in health sciences at Kyorin University, explained to the reporters that Kelly was restrained for about ten days continuously and then his heart stopped. Hasegawa said, “According to my study, the number of days an inpatient is put in restraints is 96 days on average. Kelly’s case is just the tip of the iceberg. Physical restraints are of no use at all in building a good relationship between caregivers and patients. The government should limit restraints in psychiatric care only to unavoidable cases.”
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