Help!! Visitor Problems!!

  1. I work on a med/surg floor in a large teaching hospital. The big problem I am having is with the visiting policy. Visiting hours on med/surg floors are from 8a-9p, there are no restrictions for children/babies and overnight stays are limited to one person in a private room only. However.... we have patients admitted who bring immediate family, extended family, friends, acquaintances, infants and bunk in for the duration. I'm not talking about family at the bedside of a dying loved one..I'm talking about any diagnosis/situation. As charge nurse, I have been confronted with issues such as people stealing from other patients, from our clean utility room, staff lockers, wandering halls at all hours, falling, demanding pillows, blankets, food, allowing children free rein, use equipment, sleeping on floors, sleeping in isolation rooms, chairs, clean beds, request nursing care for themselves, baby-sit their children; you name it. I certainly understand and have seen great results from those patients with supportive families but this is down right dangerous and disruptive to say the least. Enforcing visiting policy, I have met with suggestions that patient and family satisfaction come first. Of course it does but where do you draw the line? Does anyone out there have similar experiences and if yes, how do you handle it!!! Cath
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  2. 35 Comments

  3. by   Nurse Ratched
    I (thankfully) have had the experience of working on a locked unit, so we had the ability to monitor numbers of visitors very closely - in fact, only two visitors are allowed at a time during our limited vistation times.

    When I was on a traditional floor, I politely asked for folks to step out for a few minutes while I was doing my assessment. Often would couch it in a suggection for the family to "take a little break and go get some coffee." Announcements were made overhead right before and at the end of visitation hours, so I would make a point of checking in patients' room when the "last call" announcement was made and inviting family members to say their goodnights.

    Small children running amok were asked where their family members were and those folks asked to keep the little one corralled for the safety of everyone.

    Gentle, but firm. As you said, exceptions were made based on acuity of patients.
  4. by   RNonsense
    Our hospitals' hours are 11-8. There are signs posted that only 2 visitors per pt, unless you check with nsg staff first. Our monitored beds have no visiting between the hours of 1-3pm as well. Exceptions are always made of course...

    Other than that, nurse ratched above explained it pretty well!
  5. by   Rapheal
    Other than that, nurse ratched above explained it pretty well! [/B][/QUOTE]

    I agree. This is a matter of patient safety.
  6. by   mattsmom81
    I can empathize...visitors today are much more of a problem than they used to be, and as charge person myself I run into similar problem solving games with 'friends and family'.

    I find that it is easier to have stricter rules and relax them prn than try to gain control out of chaos; so I prefer working in a facility that enforces some visiting hours. Some won't.

    What seems to have reduced some problems in one facility I work at is a printed 'Welcome Sheet' handed to all visitors clearly stating visiting policies, expectations of their behavior, warning them we may ask them to leave at any time, and asking for their cooperation. We had our manager sign it clearly. We also post it in hallways and doors to make sure everyone can see it.

    Funny but I seem to be seeing more problems since we relaxed these visiting rules....but what do I know.
    Last edit by mattsmom81 on Mar 10, '03
  7. by   OBNurseShelley
    you think YOU got visiting problems, try working in L&D, for those patients delivering their first baby, they tend to call EVERYONE at the sign of the FIRST contraction and before you know it, uncle bob, cousin joe, their dog, aunt edna, baby jane, and 6-7 close friends are asking for MORE CHAIRS to watch the show! IT"S F***ing ridiculous, these ppl have no manners and no common courtesy, and when asked to leave, are very offended, It's one of MY BIGGEST PET PEEVES, and I have no quams at all about sending ppl to the waiting room and calling a supervisor/security if they don't cooperate, I once ran smack into a visitor because I ran out of the room to get something and their ear was plastered up against the door while the patient was pushing! AS YOU CAN SEE this is a touchy subject for me! I wish we were locked down with only 2 visitors per room, would make my life easier!!!
  8. by   deespoohbear
    Boy oh boy, did you hit a raw nerve with me!! Visiting hours and limitations are practically unheard of in our small hospital. Want to keep our reputation for being a friendly place!! I don't have any trouble being friendly but when a group of visitors grows to an amount that they are actually blocking the hallways, helping themselves to our food, and trashing our lounge, I say screw it! We live in an Amish area and they come to visit in groups of no less than 50 people at a time. One time I got so fed up with asking them to please keep the hall clear I called the administrator and told him that if we had a code blue I wasn't going to be to particular about the people I took out with the crash cart on my way down the hall. Got him to clear out hall real quick. I suppose the lax visitation rules that most hospitals have today are part of the kiss-butt customer relations administration is so hell bent on maintaining.

    Another thing about visitors that aggravates the crap out of me is when you have a fresh post-op just back from the recovery room who has had general anesthesia and some major abd surgery and the stupid family keeps trying to wake the patient up for some meaningful conversation... Leave them the heck alone for pete's sake. A few times I have actually had to tell some thickheaded families that "hey, they just knocked this person out for 2 hours with some big time drugs, ripped their gut open and then put it back together. He probably doesn't feel like being social right now...." Get a clue for crying out loud!!

    Okay, now I feel better and am getting off my soapbox.
  9. by   howie122832
    Speaking about visiting hours.... When I was a student, we had a pt who just happened to have the room farthest from the nurses station... Well, he was married and every morning his wife would come in to visit "for the day" with their young daughter... well, every day around dinner time she would leave, and his girlfriend would sneak in!(we later found out that she was sitting out in the lobby, until she saw the wife leave!) The 7p-7a nurse walked into his room to find her "spending" the night, in his bed after she had been asked to leave because visiting hours were over!! This happened for about 3 nights until security caught her!
  10. by   deespoohbear
    Originally posted by howie122832
    Speaking about visiting hours.... When I was a student, we had a pt who just happened to have the room farthest from the nurses station... Well, he was married and every morning his wife would come in to visit "for the day" with their young daughter... well, every day around dinner time she would leave, and his girlfriend would sneak in!(we later found out that she was sitting out in the lobby, until she saw the wife leave!) The 7p-7a nurse walked into his room to find her "spending" the night, in his bed after she had been asked to leave because visiting hours were over!! This happened for about 3 nights until security caught her!
    Oh, that could have got nasty if the two of them would have "met". :imbar The patient may have ended having to do some more time in the hospital. (Not that the rat fink wouldn't deserve it for being a two-timer!! )
  11. by   Bluewing
    This subject hits a raw nerve with me too!! I work with 1st post-op day CABG's and before the pt is even brought into the room, there are enough family and friends in there to turn it into a real circus. Some of these people don't have a clue! Of course there is not enough chairs to accomadate all of them so guess what.....i have found a few actually laying on the pt's fresh bed with there street clothes on and shoes too! Infection risks are great for these pts. and it just rankles the heck out me, the lack of common sense. Some have actually brought children in who whine and cry the whole time. I had one pt break down and cry from the overload of activity. I vowed not to allow that to happen to anyone else, so policy or not the first thing I do is the crowd control speech. Frankly I don't think we are doing families in favors with this free for all. It is a stressful time for them and giving them perimeters of visitation would actually remove some of the "I need to be here all the time" syndrome. Whew! Thanks I needed to vent!
  12. by   K O'Malley
    Visitors and visiting hours are my biggest pet peeve. Hospitals with their 24/7 open house mentality have made our jobs infinitely more difficult and it is not beneficial to the pt either. I have no objections to one or two supportive people at the bedside but what we have to endure now is insane! In the MICU we would finally get a vented pt sedated where he wasn't constantly bucking the vent and in would come the visitors, shaking the pt and saying "wake up, George!" On telemetry we have to crawl over hordes of visitors visiting a fresh MI with sky high enzymes. And why would anyone want an audience when they are in labor?We have visitors sit on dirty beds and even lie down on dirty beds that haven't yet been cleaned after discharge. This customer satisfaction obsession is a security, infection control, and pt. care nightmare.
  13. by   LilgirlRN
    It will be interesting to see how Hippa effects all these visitors. The ER I worked in has some curtained areas, hippa is gonna shake things up, hopefully it will help us maintain patient privacy. Now we can just say, it's the law, you have to get out while we talk to, assess, do procedures.. whatever we have to do.
  14. by   altomga
    Oh thank god...I am not the only one that gets extremely aggravated with the loss of control over visitors.....
    These people don't understand that it's a hospital, the person in the bed is sick, and needs rest!!!!!!!!!!!
    Then they tell you to drug the pt so they can sleep, or after you give them some pain med the family member, whatever is in there poking at them and telling them to wake up...for F'in sake...how completely stupid can people be??? We have visiting hrs...11-2 and 5-9 2 at a time, no kids under 12 and only 1 over night....think that works??? yea right....I work nights and when I see 12 people in a room and tell the day nurse to tell them to leave and reinforce the visiting hours they simply say..."oh well they haven't been much bother"...Get a life!!! It is so dang creepy to be sitting at my desk at 2am and have that feeling someone is watching me just to turn around and see @ 5 people standing there "oh we just came to visit so and so" WHAT ???? GEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!
    Oh this is a touchy subject......
    I've gotta stop before I get nasty!!!!

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