A review of the literature on positional asphyxia as a possible cause of sudden death during restraint
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A small but significant number of people die during restraint by hospital staff, police or prison officers. One possible mechanism for this has been termed 'positional asphyxia'. There is literature to suggest that deaths that occur in circumstances involving restraint may be related to certain positions, but early research has been contested. This article presents a balanced review of the literature and findings and concludes that the evidence remains unclear. However the literature does point to practical measures that should be adopted by those whose work is likely to require restraint of extreme violence, to avoid risk of death. These are summarised.