Background & Goal
Families encounter it every day in ICUs and emergency rooms nationwide -- 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. Providers base this rule on traditional concerns that families will be traumatized by the event, lose emotional control, and interrupt patient care.
The goal of Family Presence During Invasive Procedures and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (Family Presence) is to study outcomes of family presence on family members, healthcare providers (nurses and physicians), and patients. Encompassed within this goal is the mentoring of nurse colleagues in the research process, including presentation and publication of findings.
Beginning in the mid-1990’s, Drs. Guzzetta and Clark designed instruments and studies to measure attitudes, perceptions, and outcomes of the family presence phenomenon at various adult and pediatric institutions. The key conclusion of these studies document that patient care is not interrupted. Findings provide evidence about the benefits for family members: removing family doubt about the patient’s situation and seeing everything possible was done; reducing their anxiety and fear about what was happening to their loved one; maintaining the family unit and need to be together. In addition, if death occurred, families reported that their presence gave them a sense of closure and facilitated the grief process.
From this work, they developed national guidelines for critical care and emergency nursing to provide nurses with the model and processes by which to implement family presence programs nationwide.