Open Visitation in the ICU Is it Harmful or Helpful to the Patient

Open Visitation in the ICU

Privileges to visit the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) have been a controversial topic since a long time. It is a simple issue between rules and emotions. When a loved one is fighting between life and death, all family and friends wish to visit that person. They want to be there to show support and love for the one who is suffering. There are many different arguments that arise with this issue. Different people like the patients, the nurses, their family the doctor and the hospital care staff have varying perspectives. Even with so many different perspectives, this topic has not attained much attention. Therefore, the main problem over here is whether open visiting hours in the intensive care unit (ICU) are beneficial or harmful to the patient? The mainstream of this study is basically derived from New Zealand, United Kingdom, and America. (Clifford, 2006) During the time when a person is admitted into the ICU, the emotions of the family are very extreme. The entire system of the house is messed up and along with the patient suffering; the family is also suffering as well. Guilliano (2004) has stated that the family is an integrated system. Thus it is clearly stated that the family would want to meet the one who is admitted in the ICU.

The problem arises due to the stress that occurs due to increased amount of patients. A big number of visitors have shown to reduce and even negatively affect ideal patient care. (Bunker, 2006) Apart from the array of germs and infections that visitors bring, their presence can hamper the healing process as well. Patients who are in the CCU or ICU would have a weak immune system thus they are more susceptible to infections that any family or friend could bring along. Also, the patient himself is already stressed out and in pain and seeing their loved ones suffer because of them can be a psychological trauma. Due to this debate, it needs to be figured out whether open visitation is beneficial or harmful for the patient.

The research approach and design being planned is basically a quantitative method through the means of a survey. Surveys are deemed the appropriate way for many researches because they easily represent the opinions of a certain population. This quantitative approach will quite rightly gather the opinions from both the nurses and the family. Therefore, it becomes easier to reach a conclusion as to whether open visitation is beneficial to the patient or not.

This four-week research project will basically focus on the nurses in the ICU and the families of the ICU patients. This approach is a good choice since it will cover both the nurses and the families of the patients. As discussed before, the major issues arise between the differences of what the nurses want and what the families want. Gathering information from both the nurses and the family members will thus cover both the viewpoints in this research. The ICU nurses are busy and quite overwhelmed with all their duties at hand. Similarly, the families who have a loved one suffering may not be in a right emotional state at the time. Thus, observing their behavior or interviewing them extensively is one possible approach. Also, questioning them with the proper questions and surveying them seems a rather appropriate approach in this research project.

The purpose of this proposal is to emphasize on how this problem is very crucial and common in the critical care settings today. To go into simpler divisions of the problem, visitation privileges have basically been divided into either open or visiting. The restrictive settings basically allow the hospitals to only allow a certain number of people to visit at one time or another. However, the Open visiting allows the family to come and check on the distressed patients whenever they want regardless of the time (Bunker, 2006). Seeing how there are only two general categories under which visiting falls, many times hospital staff allow bending of the rules for the restricting visiting practices. A major reason this occurs is due to sympathy that the nursing staff feels towards the family or friends of the patient who is in the ICU.

As it is known people in the ICU are going to be exposed to various germs. Thus, the lack of agreement between different hospitals has lead do confusion. The different visiting practices and disagreement is present in most places because the nurses seem to alter the rules with every family. For instance, even if there is the rule of strict visitation, nurses might change the rules for a certain family. Thus, a major purpose of this research is to declare and explore whether open visitation is beneficial or harmful. With a statement or research conclusion available, the rules might be made uniform in more hospitals. Therefore, when the opinions of both sides are clearly known, this can eventually lead to a more uniform protocol in all ICU and CCU settings.

Currently, in most of the hospitals, the visiting timings are 11: am to 12 noon, 2 pm till 4 pm, 7 to 8 pm and no limitations on how many visitors come to visit the patient. (Biley, 2007) it is seen that when the patient is in the ICU, he is under a lot of stress. This means the patient is worried not only about himself, but what his family is going through and any financial crisis because of the illness. This could give the patient an increased level of fear and anxiety. Thus Biley (2007) believes that if the patient could have any interference that decreases any of these anxiety or pressures, then it will, therefore, help the patient in the long run.

It should be seen that a major aspect of nursing is that they have to deal with the family of the patient. The doctor or the surgeon would do their examining and then go away but the nurses have to deal with this and they are all the ultimate deciders. My approach to this problem is that open visitation is beneficial and actually helpful to the patients. This research will go on to see the benefits of open visitation and how it affects the prognosis of the patients in the intensive care units. The major goal is to prove that open visitation is actually a best system for the patient in the ICU. (Bunker, 2006)

The sample that has been chosen for this research is quite diverse and constitutes of persons of different ethnic, educational and economic levels. This is crucial when it comes to the sort of methodology that this research will depend on. Since the basic purpose of the research is to distinguish the opinions of two different sub-sets: the nurses and the family members. It is important for this population to not be included towards a certain stereotype. It is presumed that in a population when all the items are covered and no element of chance is remaining that is when the highest level of accuracy is obtained. (Kothari, 2009) Even though there is no set way of determining the element of bias in a sample, the sampling technique for this research is quite diverse. This will, therefore, render our methods more accurate and will provide a fair conclusion.

The target audiences for this study are the critical care nurses. As of now, the majority of the critical care nurses are not in favor of the open visitation. Many nurses feel that open visitation in the ICU is more of interference. They feel that the flow of care is hindered and that the patients are put at more risk. Apart from that, the rest of the times the individuals are also shortened. As it is mentioned before, that the results or conclusion of this study will go on to educate and inform the nurses whether open visitation is harmful or beneficial to the patients.The participants in this study will be the unit nurses and the families of the ICU/CCU patients. The ages of the participations are from 18 to 80-year-old adults. This creates quite a diverse group for a research and thus it would provide a significant input for the analysis.

The number of participants might vary since this is a four-week project. Furthermore, the group consists of both male and female nurses and family members. These participants can surely differ depending on their assignment or the relationship to the patient. Surely, the individuals will be told of what the study is about and how their data would be used. Leedy and Ormrod (2010) really stress on the need for participantsto be aware of the study before hand. The participant group is of different ethnic groups and different educational and economic groups as well. This sort of participant group is recommended because it covers different races.

Hypothesis statement

My research basically promotes that it is beneficial to have open and unrestrictive family visitation. Thus, the hypothesis here is…