A survey of intensive care unit visiting policies in the United Kingdom

Authors


Dr John Hunter
Email: jdhunter@talk21.com

Summary

Admission to an intensive care unit is a highly stressful event for both patients and their relatives. Feelings of anxiety, pain, fear and a sense of isolation are often reported by survivors of a critical illness, whilst the majority of relatives report symptoms of anxiety or depression while their relative was in the intensive care unit. Traditionally, infection control concerns and a belief that liberal visiting by patients’ relatives interferes with the provision of patient care have led many units to impose restricted visiting policies. However, recent studies suggest that an open visiting policy with unrestricted visiting hours improve visitors’ satisfaction and reduces anxiety. In order to determine current visiting practice and provision for relatives within intensive care units, a questionnaire was sent to the principal nurse in all units within the United Kingdom. A total of 206 hospitals out of 271 completed the survey (76%). We found that 165 (80.1%) of responding units still impose restricted visiting policies, with wide variations in the facilities available to patients’ relatives.

Ancillary