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December 8, 2004

Restrictions on Family Presence in the ICU

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(22):2721-2722. doi:10.1001/jama.292.22.2721-b

To the Editor: Every day in ICUs and emergency departments a critically ill or injured patient is wheeled in one direction while frightened family are shuffled away to await word of their loved one’s fate. It is one of the unwritten rules of critical care and emergency medicine that family members are not allowed in the patient’s room during emergency procedures. Clinicians base this rule on traditional concerns that families might lose emotional control or hinder patient care, or that the risk of litigation will increase. Dr Berwick and Ms. Kotagal describe other concerns surrounding restricted visiting in ICUs1 but do not address prohibition of family presence during resuscitation as the ultimate visitation restriction.