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Communication, Intensive Care Units, Pediatric, Pediatrics, Pediatric nursing



  1. Madigan, Catherine K. MSN, RN
  2. Donaghue, Denise D. MSN, RN
  3. Carpenter, Esther V. BSN, RN


The essence of family-centered care is the provision, by all health professionals, of psychosocially supportive care that fosters family integrity and functioning. Data from a hospital-based satisfaction survey at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) indicated that the primary reason for parents being "less than completely satisfied" was lack of communication. A search of recent literature suggests also that breakdown in family-centered care in intensive care units is neither new nor unique. The purpose of this article is to describe how efforts to improve communication with parents and families led to the development of a family liaison program and an expanded role for staff nurses in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU). The goals of this family liaison program were three-fold: to facilitate establishment of a relationship between CICU nursing staff, parents, and families at the earliest possible point in time; to ensure communication with parents and families at regular intervals during their child's surgery; and to promote practice that incorporates principles of family-centered care within the CICU. The design and implementation of such a program presented nurses in the CICU with both a challenge and an opportunity to take an innovative approach to meeting the fundamental need for information reported by parents and families, and echoed throughout nursing literature. This family liaison program serves to educate parents and families, communicate updates, provide physical and emotional support, and establish continuity of care for the patient and family. Additionally, nurses involved in the program have given positive feedback regarding their expanded role in this family-centered care model.