How often are psychiatric patients restrained at your local hospital?

illustration of a figure in red silhouette being restrained on a bed
(Jim Cooke / Los Angeles Times)
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A Times analysis of federal data found that Los Angeles General Medical Center physically restrained inpatients in its psychiatric unit at some of the highest rates in the country from 2018 through 2021.

Records filled out by hospital staff show that in some cases, psychiatric patients there spent so many hours in restraints that it amounted to a week or more within a month.

L.A. General’s inpatient psychiatric unit has restrained patients at a higher rate than in any other in California, a Times analysis has found.

Oct. 19, 2023

If you want to learn more about how regularly a local hospital uses restraint on psychiatric inpatients and how those restraint rates compare with state and national averages, here’s where to look.


How do I find out how often psychiatric inpatients are physically restrained at local hospitals?

The federal government provides a lot of information about your local hospitals on this website. You can find an overall rating for a hospital, as well as details about how it scores on specific measures.

To look at restraint rates for psychiatric inpatients, click on the name of the hospital, then scroll down to “Quality” and click on “Psychiatric unit services” and scroll down again to “Patient safety.”

The website provides restraint rates for psychiatric units at hospitals, as well as the national and state averages for comparison. The federal figures do not include restraint use on patients in other units at a hospital besides a psychiatric inpatient unit, which means they do not reflect all possible instances of physical restraint at a facility.

Not all hospitals have psychiatric inpatient units, so not all hospitals will have data to report.

Los Angeles General Medical Center's main campus at dusk.
Los Angeles General Medical Center’s main campus at dusk. A Times analysis of federal data found that the hospital physically restrained inpatients in its psychiatric unit, the Augustus F. Hawkins Mental Health Center in Willowbrook, at some of the highest rates in the country from 2018 through 2021.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

What if I want to know how many hours each patient was restrained?

The federal government doesn’t provide information about how long each patient was physically restrained — just an overall rate. But in Los Angeles County, hospitals provide monthly reports to the L.A. County Department of Mental Health that include the total number of hours each patient was restrained in a particular month. The hospital reports do not identify patients by name.


Unfortunately, this information isn’t readily available online. To obtain the reports, you may need to file a request under the California Public Records Act. You can find contact information for the Department of Mental Health here.

The Times analyzed restraint data for psychiatric inpatient facilities that have been collected by the federal government since 2013.

Oct. 19, 2023

How do I lodge a complaint about restraint use at a hospital?

You can file a complaint with the California Department of Public Health, which regulates hospitals across the state, using this website.

The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health also has a Patients’ Rights Office that takes complaints. Its website includes copies of the grievance form in multiple languages, and an address where the form can be mailed.