J Gen Intern Med. 2022 Jan 28. doi: 10.1007/s11606-021-07222-5. Online ahead of print.
Hospitalized incarcerated patients are commonly shackled throughout their duration of treatment in community medical centers to prevent escape or harm to others. In the absence of overarching policies guiding the shackling of non-pregnant, incarcerated patients, clinicians rarely unshackle patients during routine care. We provide a medical-legal lens through which to examine inpatient shackling, review the limited evidence supporting the practice, and highlight harms associated with shackling in the hospital. We conclude by offering guidance to advance evidence-based shackling practices that prevent physical harm, reduce prejudice towards incarcerated patients, and relinquish reliance on shackles in favor of tailored security measures.