Violence in Healthcare and the Use of Handcuffs


The use of handcuffs in the healthcare setting is a complicated issue.  The federal regulations related to patient protection and worker protection are in direct conflict, putting security officers in the middle with the expectation that they will somehow navigate the inconsistencies to protect both.  Though perhaps counter-intuitive, the most successful and purposeful use of handcuffs in the healthcare setting is to prevent their use in the first place, especially with regards to patients.  This can be best accomplished through workplace violence programs and de-escalation training.  In the circumstances in which they are needed, strong polices, a healthcare team environment, training and a collaborative relationship with local law enforcement are the keys to success.


Sarah Henkel is the Director of Safety and Security at Firelands Regional Medical Center.  She earned her M.S. in Safety and Emergency Management from the University of Tennessee and her B.A. in Journalism from the Ohio State University.  She is a Certified Healthcare Security Officer and Nationally Registered Paramedic.  Previously she served in the Arlington Texas Fire Department as a special event emergency planner participating in public safety planning for several large events including the 2010 and 2011 World Series and Super Bowl 45.  Ms. Henkel may be reached at

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