Visiting hours?

Should there be visiting hours in the ICU? Or should it be open with no restrictions?

A recent article at sparked my interest. Limited (or scheduled) visitation versus unlimited visitation hours?

As a nurse, the reflex answer should be: Whatever is better for the patient.

I honestly feel anything that can improve the delivery of care is a good thing, but you’ll be hard pressed to find many nurses who are advocates of unlimited visiting hours.

It’s a touchy subject, isn’t it? I don’t think anyone is completely for or against either choice.

The article (AACN calls for expanding visitation rights in ICU) says:

Hospitals may limit visiting hours under the assumption that family visitation causes stress for the patient, interferes with the provision of care, is mentally exhausting to patients and families or contributes to increased infections.

Other than the increased infections, I’d agree with that statement…….

via Visitation in the ICU | Scrubs – The Leading Lifestyle Nursing Magazine Featuring Inspirational and Informational Nursing Articles.

A recent blog I posted over at Scrubs. Go clickety-click and read the original post.


7 thoughts on “Visiting hours?

  1. That is a huge issue, in our ICU we used to have 4 sets of 1/2 hour visits throughout the day. About 3-4 yrs ago we went to open visiting hours. It is horrible. The families are all in your business, totally distracting the care , while you are trying to give meds or chart in the room, everyone in the room(can be whomever) can see the pts meds and charting b/c we have computer screens in the room. They dont leave, they sit at the door and stare out at what is going on in the unit. They hear things that arent about them but they think they are, and the patients dont know how to say please leave, often i have to do it. I mean who wants aunt mary coming to visit you when you are deathly ill in the icu only to gawk and stare, and ask STUPID questions that are really none of their business. Our sister hosipital has locked doors, now thats more like it. Anyone can just walk right in, whenever they want and get in our way. Half the time they think they should stay in the room when we are changing their parents etcs shit. I mean how about some dignity. As you can see i feel so strong about this as do alot of other seasoned nurses out there. It is an invasion of privacy. I probably could have said this better. I mean i dont object all the time but it should be the exception not the rule. Big problem is that its going to stay this way b/c now hospital nursing is all about pleasing the Family first , then the patients care. they actually deter alot of nurses from going in the room if they dont need to. Sorry to rant here but its just a touchy subject, and another dig at nurses where we have no say and are watched 24/7 by eyes that dont know what they are looking at!!!!

  2. My dad has been vented in the ICU 3 times – once in the early 90’s, when he wasn’t sedated, and twice more recently when he was.

    Unsedated, it was no problem for us to go home at night. However, while sedated with propofol, the maximum dose they were comfortable with was sufficient to limit his short-term memory to 15 minutes, but he remained conscious. (In general, pain medication and sedation don’t affect him as much as most people.) After a few hours, the nurses requested that it was necessary for someone he knew to stay (awake) around the clock to tell him where he was every 15 minutes and keep him from panicing about now knowing where he was so that they would have time to take care of him medically.

  3. I agree this is a tough issue! When my father was in the ICU for a night due to heart surgery, I know we would have liked to stay overnight, especially my mother. But though my father said he was happy for the visitation hours, so he could try to get some sleep and so my mother could as well, I know deep down he really would have wanted her there the whole time. On the other side, if my family staying there would have hindered or made it more difficult for the hospital staff to do their job, checking on my father at various times in the night, then I would be completely alright with having ICU visitation hours.

    1. Thank you so very much for your honest and genuine opinion on this tough subject! I agree, it should not be a blanket policy, and should be reviewed with better detail. Not every patient has the same needs.

  4. Coming from a pediatric floor, we have no visitation hours for immediate family. My husband is an ICU nurse and would have to agree that it should be unlimited to family that may want to be with during this critical period.

    New to blogging and came across your nuring blog. Great articles.

    1. Well thanks for visiting!

      I still think it’s not a cut and dry decision, but in your line of work emotions probably run a bit high.

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