Family visitation in ICU - page 2

family visitation in icu -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- hi...i just found this site yesterday....it looks like a great way to get to know... Read More

  1. by   bfjworr
    Quote from 11:11
    You will regret it.

    I think all ICU's should have a large bold sign that says "We Reserve the Right to Refuse Anyone" right on the front of the locked entrance.

    I work in the ICU of a large teaching and research facility. Its an open unit. Its been a terrible experience for me. Other nurses might not care or know better. Our NM does not support us either regarding pt visiters or enforcing unit rules. The bottom line is customer based service, not RN's which is why they constantly hire.

    The last unit I worked on was locked. We had a great dedicated pool of charge RN's who espoused leadership and supported their staff. If visiters refused to leave security was called pronto. Ive actully seen them use their powers of arrest.

    Look, I understand what its like to have a family member in the ICU. Ive been there. Ive also been an ICU pt. So I like to think I am sympathetic. I personaly would not leave my wifes side.

    Unfortunately not all people are equiped to deal with the stress of a medical crisis. And they arent always "jerry springer specials" either (I resent that). Many times they are well educated, informed, articulate, and empowered individuals who crack under years of dealing with comorbidities, dysfunctional families, and unresloved issues (one or all).

    Another issue is my right to privacy while I practice. I dont think mangement has taken that into consideration nor will they until nurses step up to the plate and stand up for themselves.

    I think units with high acuity pts from trauma, transplant, to medical should all be locked. Then let the unit decide if a visiter is accpetable to stay at the bedside or not. If not explain why and kick them the hell out, call social services, chaplain service and somehow help them.

    Personally Ive just about had it with ICU-

    11
    How long have you worked at the teaching facility? Has it had open visitation the entire time you have been there? Have you observed any injuries as a result? Are there any positive aspects of an open visitation that you can identify or are they all bad?
  2. by   mattsmom81
    As of last month I gave up on my ICU career (and for now my entire nursing career..I'm taking a breather to reasess and heal) so I know where you're coming from 11:11. I can relate to everyone's posts here very very well.

    I've had family in the hospital myself and I haven't had a need to behave like so many do out there...and yes too many DO behave like Jerry Springer guests in TOO many cases, sorry to offend you 11:11 but it is the truth. I understand they are having a meltdown but whatever happened to common courtesy, respect, cooperation with rules?? I am marginally staffed to care for critical patients and do not have time to deal with these people, yet management demands we DO.

    I suspect folks see much of this reality show mentality / acting out on TV and thus think they are entitled to 'lose it' in the hospital. They are acting out because society permits it today it...the hospital does not care that visitors are interfering with care and too often abusing their nurses, sadly. 20 yrs ago I never had the problem with families I do today so its partly generational.

    Sadly, the hospital cares not for what dedicated nurses go through to deliver competent critical care, nor do they care to support us. What they DO care for is 'customer satisfaction' (their way at ANY cost) and bottom line THEIR profits.

    I can no longer work as a nurse in today's conditions, sadly, and my mental health is already thanking me.
    Last edit by mattsmom81 on Jan 18, '05
  3. by   bellehill
    It was at 3am the other morning when I was sitting at the nurses station and looked down the hall, realizing I had no idea who was walking towards me or why they were on the unit at 3am. I don't feel safe with this open unit visiting policy. I know security will come if I need them but I shouldn't have to call them to help me.

    I can only hope for the family that helps with care and nutures the patient, sits quietly in the corner and asks questions pertinent to the patient.
  4. by   fergus51
    I work in a neonatal ICU so it's a little different obviously... But, we have open visiting hours for parents (except for shift change) and then strictly enforced rules for others (4 hours a day, siblings only on weekends). It can be great for the right people. Those families get to know the nurses, come to understand our work and can be very helpful. Unfortunately there are crazies out there. I have found the key to open visiting working isn't about open or restricted hours, it's about how the families are controlled when they are on the unit and how the manager backs up her nurses. Unruly, rude, troublesome families need to be stopped in their tracks. People will only misbehave as much as we allow them to and nurses can only stop this if they are supported by their supervisors. That's why I blame supervisors more than the families.
  5. by   11:11
    I think fergus has probably hit the nail on the head. And as stated the problem is usually management. Most do not want to risk critisism from higher higher and are so far removed from bedside care that they cant relate or care.

    Like I said the solution for them is usually to constantly hire.

    And I completely sympathize MM81. I think that you are right that the problem is partly generational. Just today I heard on the news that studies are showing that kids today are having difficulty transitioning to adulthood. Suprisingly a lot of the flak comes from older persons, not the young from my experience.

    I hope you find whatever it takes to be at peace. Maybe some day , after a needed rest, you might find a small unit or ER that you might be willing to casual in and spread some of that experience around.

    To answer bfjworr I can think of one time a family member removed a restraint and the pt extubated herself. Most examples arent that specific. Disruption of care and sleep come to mind. Most are intangible like lack of privacy for the nurse, other caregivers, and other pts on the unit. Isolation violations are huge in an open unit when its difficult to keep track of visiters. I cant keep count of how many times Ive come back from helping another, supply, or break to find visiters in the room in violation of precautions. We have nosocomial issues.

    On time a visiter sat on the nurses chair (with wheels) and fell.

    Ive been at the facility longer than two years, less than five. Its been open since long before I arrived.

    I see no positive aspects of open visitaton that couldnt be addressed with a good visiter policy based on compliance and stritcly enforced by staff with support from the NM-

    HTH
  6. by   begalli
    Our visting hours:

    From 10am - 10pm every 2 hours for 30 minutes at a time/two people at a time.

    We just recently increased the time a visitor can spend in the room from 15 to 30 minutes.

    Of course we have our exceptions as people have posted here.

    I spent a lot of time in my dad's ICU room when he was in the hospital for four months. I frequently stayed way past visiting hours and came in a couple of times at 6am to be there when the docs rounded. His nurses and I had this discussion about visiting hours many times. If they needed me to step out for whatever reason, they'd just say so and tell me that they'd come to get me when they were done. They always did!

    I can't tell you how much I appreciated their accomodating me. But then again, I helped them turn and clean my dad, kept on eye on stuff for them and brought them cookies and pizza. We would spend hours talking/comparing jobs/areas that we live/etc. Actually, they were a lot more easy going than I would probably be if my patient had a family member who was an ICU nurse. But that hasn't happened (that I know of), so I don't know.
  7. by   bellehill
    Quote from fergus51
    I work in a neonatal ICU so it's a little different obviously... But, we have open visiting hours for parents (except for shift change) and then strictly enforced rules for others (4 hours a day, siblings only on weekends). It can be great for the right people. Those families get to know the nurses, come to understand our work and can be very helpful. Unfortunately there are crazies out there. I have found the key to open visiting working isn't about open or restricted hours, it's about how the families are controlled when they are on the unit and how the manager backs up her nurses. Unruly, rude, troublesome families need to be stopped in their tracks. People will only misbehave as much as we allow them to and nurses can only stop this if they are supported by their supervisors. That's why I blame supervisors more than the families.
    Fergus you are exactly right. We can't open the unit and expect people to know how to obey themselves. Strict rules need to be enforced by nurses and management. The other side of that is that we spend more time with the family than the patient. If management backs us up maybe it will work.
  8. by   RN34TX
    Quote from bfjworr
    Although our unit has closed visitation hours....our unit is easily accessible....There are no locks on the double doors and there is no one preventing them from walking through the double doors to the unit itself. Each patient door can be locked and this is encouraged by our manager. There is a red phone visitors are suppose to pick up and use to find out if it is convenient to visit. Many do not use the red phone.... We limit visitors to two at a time... but many do not pay attention... Some nurses do not enforce the rule and then all the other staff nurses receive aggravation from the families when they follow the guidelines. Another problem is families try to wake up sedated patients while they are on the ventilator or loosen or remove restraints while they are visiting and forget to replace them when they leave. Patient confidentiality is compromised when family members approach the nurses station.....we have glass doors on our rooms so all our patients are easily seen by the nurses....and unfortunately sometimes visitors....Do you have some of these same problems....
    Love it. That is a classic ICU problem family situation. You just get your wild vented patient calm and settled, in comes the family and it's time to wake up and entertain the family. It's as if the patient is there for the family instead of the other way around.
    Then I always hear the famous "Well he'd get off this breathing machine if you'd quit doping him up so much and let him wake up. Wake up Dad, it's me, wake up."
    The patients HR and BP jump sky high, starts bucking the vent and we start all over from square one again.
    If you bring these issues up at meetings to administration they always follow it up with the famous "We need to educate our families on why their loved one is sedated."
    As if I hadn't already tried that a million times. You can educate all you want, it doesn't mean anyone is going to listen. They want their loved one awake and lively when they come in to visit and that's it. Too often they don't want to hear about anything else.
  9. by   NRSKarenRN
    Data Supports Open ICU Visitation Policy
    By Paul Clark, for HealthLeaders News, January 13, 2005
    http://www.healthleaders.com/news/feature62357.html
  10. by   fergus51
    Oddly enough that research has almost nothing about nurses' ability to do their jobs with unrestricted visiting policies.
  11. by   lapappey
    A tangentially related story:

    Parents are allowed to escort their children into the OR after donning "bunny suits", caps and masks. Bad enough, right? (Yes this causes all manner of problems ...)

    Had one kid, a baby, come in for some small operation, mom is holding him while anesthesia is inducing. Well dad gets bored watching this, and walks over to the back table ... and befor the scrub can say anything ... starts PICKING UP THE INSTRUMENTS AND LOOKING AT THEM.

    What could really have been done in this situation, after the fact? Or, as management types say, "what changes could we implement to prevent this type of situation from recurring?"

    How about realizing that LIMITS HAVE TO BE SET on patient's families.

    Oh, and our PACU has been loosening up visitation lately as well. I wouldn't venture to call our PACU a really pleasant place to be ... no space, packed to the brim with sick patients, people shouting to each other across the room, monitors and alarms going off. Visitors add a whole new dimension to this problem ... wandering around, looking at other patients, taking up space, freaking out when the monitor alarms artifact ...

    Two settings where families should never, NEVER, EVER, be allowed ... perhaps excepting parents of small children in the PACU, and then only if caseload & acuity permits ... RN's discretion.

    The volunteers who staff the waiting area, BTW, are totally out of control. They are notified when surgeries start and finish so they can communicate that to family ... and as soon as surgery is over, as soon as the Pt is in the door they are on the phone with PACU, 'oh, can so and so's family come up?'

    'Not right now.'

    'Why not?'

  12. by   bfjworr
    Quote from NRSKarenRN
    Data Supports Open ICU Visitation Policy
    By Paul Clark, for HealthLeaders News, January 13, 2005
    http://www.healthleaders.com/news/feature62357.html
    Thanks for all the great reading material....I will take it to work with me tonight and share it with my co-workers....
  13. by   nurselily3
    The hospital I work at is a Teaching Trauma Level 1. We have an open visitation policy also, much to the nurses dissatisfaction. There are rules set but we have 7 separate ICU's .....so, when one patient gets moved from one ICU to another and the first has been abusing the "rules" then the family wants to know why its so in the second ICU. One unit lets family sleep on the floor for goodness sake and wonders why we wont let them in our unit. For the longest time we didn't have locked doors on our units either. Only the ED was locked down. We just have "clerks" who call in when so and so's family would like to visit (is that OK). The nurses have the right to say yes or no, but if its not locked down what is going to keep the Jerry Springer families from coming in?
    I recently had a young girl (17) that had been shot by an unknown assailant in a waffle house. Her family was out of control. After repeated times going over the rules about letting people parade in an out. Cause as the rule stipulated...only two at a time, so people trade out....ALL DAY!! The parents thought that this didnt' apply to them, so they stayed while kids and family walked in an out as if it were a side show...stopping to peek at all the other poor souls lying in there. They didn't know half of these people! And the guy who shot her is still walking the streets. Who's to say that he doesn't come in with the group of kids (I don't think he was much older then them)? That would put all the other families, patients, STAFF...everyone in danger. Management didnt' care. Finally I told the parents that I had enough, that if they didn't control the problem...I would with the help of security and not let anyone visit while she was in the ICU. Finally they got the picture. People just don't have any respect for other people!
    Ive been on the other side of this picture too. My father spent 43 days in the hosptial after a lung transplant. He coded and died on day 44. I think its shameful to think that people want to see their loved ones pounded on. I had a hard enough time dealing with him laying in a bed dead, covered with a white sheet. Not to mention, as Im sure you all have dealt with, throwing stuff on the floor cause who has the time to find the trash. We try to clean up the rooms, but there are always things left behind like heplocks...tops to emergency drugs...etc. This stuff was all laying under his bed..just as a reminder of what he had been through. Not something that lay people shoud be seeing.
    Our units finally got locked down. Half the time the people will wait till someone comes out the door and seak through it. That, or they will sit and pull on the handle like children (which in most cases breaks the door). Where do you draw the line??
    I think people should be able to see their family, but within reason. This should be supported by management (who were all mostly bedside nurses at one time, they just quickly forget).

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