I just finished reading yet another research study about visitation in an ICU. We were pretty flexible in our ICU, with open visiting hours from 11 am to 8 pm. Of course, there were exceptions, both where we had to limit visitation and other times where visitors were permitted to come in earlier, stay later, or even spend the night.
As a visitor to other critical care units, however, I often did not meet such “openness.” Visits to my own family members or friends at other hospitals were commonly limited to 15-minute intervals 3 to 4 times per day. And that was for all visitors. So, if 5 of us wanted to visit our grandmother, that left us with just 3 minutes per visit. Can you really call that a visit?
In Research Dimension: Critical-Care Visitation: The Patients' Perspective, from the January/February issue of Dimensions in Critical Care Nursing, the researchers look at patient satisfaction and patient preference regarding restricted visitation. In this article, the following quote from a 2004 JAMA article caught my eye and I think it is worth sharing:
"Who is visiting whom? To stabilize the details of ICU operations, health care institutions and professionals neglect the plausible assertion that they are the visitors in patients' lives, not the other way around."
Reference: Berwick DM, Kotagal M. Restricted visiting hours in the ICU's. JAMA. 2004;292(6):736-737.