I work at a medium sized community hospital, on a mixed unit; meaning we have several intensive care beds on our floor, and several more stepdown/med-surg beds. We have had a change of leadership lately, and one of the changes that this new leadership has instituted has been to restrict visiting hours significantly. In the past it has always been up to the discretion of the RN who can visit, for how long, etc. There were policies in place, but they were very loosely enforced. Now it is expected that we adhere to these policies with no flexibility whatsoever (the only allowable exception being a hospice/comfort care patient).
Let me tell you how this is working out: the day nurses love
this system. The get to get all of their work done, and not deal with visitors until the very end of their shift. The night nurses on the other hand hate
the system. We are the ones who come in to work with family members breathing down our necks for the first hour of our shift, and then we are forced to be the ones who tell them they have to leave. When a post-operative patient in horrific pain is crying because you're telling her that her mother has to leave, you don't feel like you are providing good patient care. We as night nurses agreed to speak to said leadership today regarding how these policies are affecting us on nights, and were met basically with a stone wall. "These are the policies and you have to enforce them."
What is bothering me the most is that we are not being given any facts or evidence to back up these policies. I have been doing some research on my own, and most of what is out there seems to point to the opposite: less restrictive visiting policies seem to improve
quality of care, as well as patient satisfaction. My research, as well as discussions with other RN's at other facilities in the area seems to point to a national trend in the opposite direction of that in which my institution is headed.
So, my question to all of you is what have you experienced in this respect? What visiting policies are in place where you work, and how strictly are they enforced? Are you allowed to use your nursing judgement at all in deciding who stays and who goes, or is it completely out of your hands? How have you seen these policies affect patient outcomes, and satisfaction?
P.S. It would help me if when you answer the above questions that you provide me with the type of unit that you work on, as well as the geographic location (you don't have to be specific, northeast, etc would be fine.)