A multicenter survey of visiting policies in French intensive care units
Objective. To determine the visiting policies of French intensive care units.
Design and setting. Descriptive study in intensive care units.
Methods. A questionnaire on their official visiting policies was sent to 200 French ICUs.
Results. Ninety-five ICUs completed the questionnaire (47.5%). Ninety-two (97%) ICUs reported restricted visiting-hour policies, allowing visits at only one or several preassigned times. Mean total daily visiting time was 168 min (range 30–370). The number of visitors was restricted in 90 ICUs (95%). The type of visitors (immediate relatives only) was restricted in 57 (60%). Visiting was forbidden for children in 10 (11%), and 41 (44%) fixed an age limit for visiting. A gowning procedure was imposed on visitors in 78 (82%). Eighteen (19%) ICUs had no waiting room available, 35 (37%) used a special room for providing families with information in addition to the waiting room, 61 (64%) provided an information leaflet. A structured first meeting was organized in 68 (71%). A last structured family meeting at the ICU discharge was provided in 6 (6%).
Conclusions. Responding ICUs provide homogeneously restrictive visiting policies concerning visiting hours, number and type of visitors. However, family reception cannot be reduced to some quantitative factors and depends on multiple other parameters such as the organization of family meetings and the use of an information leaflet. These results should be an interesting starting point to observe any change in mentalities and practices in the future.
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