PACU RN's- what is your visitor policy?

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    My manager believes that our unit is too strict with visitation and wants us to be more in step with ASPAN standards of visitation.
    She wants our input and to come to a decision about how to make visitation more open.

    I'd like to know how different PACU's handle visitor issues:

    1. Does your PACU allow visitors?
    2. If so, under what circumstances? i.e. peds cases only, special needs, ect.
    3. Is the visit just for a quick minute or is it unlimited to stand in there and see everything?
    4. How many people can be in there per patient at a time?
    5. How do you handle privacy issues, giving report when a visitor is in the room, etc. or when patients go bad or code in front of visitors, etc.

    Any input by PACU (former or current) nurses would be greatly appreciated.
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  3. 29 Comments so far...

  4. 2
    I work in day surgery, but I can tell you how our PACU works. If it's a peds. pt., they allow a parent to come back. If there is only one pt. in PACU and a family member wants to go back, they usually accommodate that. Otherwise, no family.

    I think there's a time and place for everything. That time and place does not, IMO, include family members all over the place in PACU. People are just coming out of anesthesia--nauseated, vomiting, in pain, etc. There's no privacy whatsoever. I would not want a bunch of strangers gaping at me if I were fresh post-op.
    GHGoonette and Anneka like this.
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    We allow no visitors in PACU. There are no walls between beds, only curtains, and the report between anesthesia and nurse is verbal so I think it would be difficult to maintain patient privacy(you tell the md to lower his voice.) Patients dont need visitation at this time they need to be monitored. Peds are the exception, and only exception to this rule. If a patient is stable enough for visitors then they should be going to the floor. Family gets to talk to surgeon while pt in PACU, and gets update from nurse after 30 minutes so they get their reassurance.
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    1. does your pacu allow visitors? yes
    2. if so, under what circumstances? i.e. peds cases only, special needs, ect. peds cases, pt's with special needs. we do allow family on occassion if we are holding a patient for extended period of time because we are waiting for a room to open up.
    3. is the visit just for a quick minute or is it unlimited to stand in there and see everything? for peds and some special needs, the visit is usually unlimited, but our peds patients are usually only done in a special area in the back of the room behind a dividing wall. for patients we are holding it is just for a quick minute.
    4. how many people can be in there per patient at a time?2
    5. how do you handle privacy issues, giving report when a visitor is in the room, etc. or when patients go bad or code in front of visitors, etc.
    as above we have peds patients in a special area, when the patient goes bad, we usually talk the parents through it if possible, sometimes you end up spending just as much time reassuring parents.
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    Quote from nursenatalie
    We allow no visitors in PACU. There are no walls between beds, only curtains, and the report between anesthesia and nurse is verbal so I think it would be difficult to maintain patient privacy(you tell the md to lower his voice.) Patients dont need visitation at this time they need to be monitored. Peds are the exception, and only exception to this rule. If a patient is stable enough for visitors then they should be going to the floor. Family gets to talk to surgeon while pt in PACU, and gets update from nurse after 30 minutes so they get their reassurance.
    Thank you all for your replies.
    Our PACU is designed like yours with curtains only and I agree with your statements. I'm very concerned about the Pandora's box opening if we change or visitation policy so I'm looking for input from other PACU staff.

    Currently, peds and special needs cases are the only exception unless a patient gets stuck in here for a period of time due to no beds, ICU overflow, etc.

    My personal opinion is that we are too liberal with our visitors as it is now and certainly don't need to loosen it even more. It's asking for trouble.
    Thanks again for your comments and keep them coming if anyone else can share their PACU policies.
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    Families in PACU, families at the bedside during codes...what next? Shall we offer families to option of scrubbing in to observe during surgery?

    I guess I'm showing my age. I'm all for family involvement, but I think it's getting taken to the extreme in some cases.
    PACURN1818 likes this.
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    1. Does your PACU allow visitors? No. I'm very strict in implementing this unit policy. Relatives are sometimes pain the ass. (kidding)

    2. If so, under what circumstances? i.e. peds cases only, special needs, ect. Pediatric and psych patients are exemptions to the rule. But only one relative is allowed inside and they should be at the beside of the patient at all times.

    3. Is the visit just for a quick minute or is it unlimited to stand in there and see everything? If we need to talk to the relatives we let them get near their patient but for seconds only.

    4. How many people can be in there per patient at a time? One.

    5. How do you handle privacy issues, giving report when a visitor is in the room, etc. or when patients go bad or code in front of visitors, etc. It's difficult considering that the patients are near to the nurses station. We just try to lower our voices.
    Last edit by Mayotski on Dec 25, '06
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    Yes we allow visits. Policy is to limit the visit to 1 fam member to only 2-3 min. However with my experience the family either greatly appreciates the opportunity or tries to take advantage of it and manipulate the staff to let the mother, brother, cousin, and the preacher in....lol. A parent is allowed to stay at the bedside with peds cases. But, like many other facilities, we only have curtains aswell (and I have noticed several prying eyes) if you know what I mean especially when we are holding ICU/TICU overflow and the family doesn't want to leave the bedside.
    GHGoonette likes this.
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    We just had our policy changed. Thank goodness we will all know the guidelines. I came from a PACU with strict guidelines. Only 1 parent with a child or special needs no exceptions. Here families( 2) members no kids under 16 come, in for 15 min. or less (depends on the nurses discretion) after 2 hrs. in the PACU. We have a delay in obtaining beds for our patients and also get ICU and TICU overflow. Our slots are tight with just curtains in between and there is not much privacy. All families are seen by the surgeon post-op. The parent must have a matching id band on to visit with the child. When I first started here at this busy Trauma center each nurse had a different idea of visitation. It was confusing for all. I have had to ask families to leave, the try to overstay, the patient is trying to sleep or get pain relief and sometimes they are not considerate and think it is question and answer time and prevent the patient from resting by talking and talking.... I actually liked the stricter visitation but with the delay in bed availability the patients and the families need to see each other.
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    One parent/person with a special needs child or adult.


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