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Health Care Blog

Wisconsin DHS Prohibits Maneuvers and Techniques in Community Based Programs

Authored by John H. Fisher, II, February 10, 2017
Filed under Health Care

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) released a memo specifying maneuvers or techniques that may not be used at any time in community based programs and facilities. DHS deems the prohibited maneuvers or techniques to "present an inherently high risk of serious injury and even death."  Providers are directed by DHS to immediately discontinue use of any of the listed maneuvers.  

See “Prohibited Restrictive Measures in Community-Based Programs and Facilities” - Division of Quality Assurance Memo: 17-01

Prohibited maneuvers, techniques, and procedures that may not be used under any circumstances include:

  • Any maneuver or technique that does not give adequate attention and care to protection of the head.
  • Any maneuver or technique that places pressure or weight on the chest, lungs, sternum, diaphragm, back, or abdomen.
  • Any maneuver or technique that places pressure, weight, or leverage on the neck or throat, on any artery, or on the back of the head or neck, or that otherwise obstructs or restricts the circulation of blood or obstructs an airway, such as straddling or sitting on the torso, or any type of choke hold.
  • Any maneuver or technique that involves pushing into a person’s mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • Any maneuver or technique that utilizes pain to obtain compliance or control, including punching, hitting, hyperextension of joints, or extended use of pressure points.
  • Any maneuver or technique that forcibly takes a person from a standing position to the floor or ground. This includes taking a person from a standing position to a horizontal (prone or supine) position or to a seated position on the floor.
  • Any maneuver or technique that creates a motion causing forcible impact on the person’s head or body, or forcibly pushes an individual against a hard surface.
  • The use of seclusion where the door to the room would remain locked without someone having to remain present to apply some type of constant pressure or control to the locking mechanism.

DHS explains in the memo that the ultimate goal is to replace such interventions with trauma-informed systems and settings, positive behavior supports, and non-coercive intervention strategies.  DHS promotes recovery and healing that is consumer-driven, person-centered, trauma-informed, and recovery-based.

In addition to describing measures that are completely prohibited, DHS states that restrictive measures that are not prohibited may only be used in emergency situations in which there is an imminent risk of serious harm to self or others, or as part of an approved plan.  Situations in which the person’s behavior was foreseeable based on his or her history are not considered an emergency.  

Even restrictive measures that are not directly prohibited must be avoided whenever possible and may only be used after all other feasible alternatives, including de-escalation techniques, have been exhausted.  When necessary, restrictive measures may only be used with the minimum amount of force needed, and for the shortest duration possible, to restore safety.

Facilities should review their policies and practices to assure compliance with the guidelines set forth in the memo. Additional staff training should be conducted to assure compliance with these standards.   Additionally, providers should become familiar with the changing standards of care and best practices focused on building skills and techniques to de-escalate and redirect behaviors that present safety concerns, and work earnestly to promote a trauma-informed culture of care.