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August 11, 2004

Restricted Visiting Hours in ICUsTime to Change

JAMA. 2004;292(6):736-737. doi:10.1001/jama.292.6.736

The sickest patients lie in intensive care units (ICUs) facing fearful illness; surrounded by overwhelming noise from pulsating ventilators and monitors; invaded by the necessary ministrations of nurses; and overhearing, if they are awake, strange and portentous conversations. Professionals buzz about them, but these patients are mostly alone, separated from those who love them by restrictive ICU visiting policies, except at rigidly specified times or with the doled-out permission of the ICU staff. Restricting visiting in ICUs is neither caring, compassionate, nor necessary.