Visiting hours in the ICU: benefits and downfalls

Dr Nancy Kentish-Barnes

Admission to an intensive care unit is an extremely stressful event for both patients and their relatives. Survivors of critical care report feelings of anxiety, fear, isolation and pain. Relatives also suffer from anxiety and depression both during the patient’s stay in the ICU and after. ICUs remained “closed” (restricted visiting hours) for a long time. However, when priority was given to patient and family-centered care, controversy about visiting policies developed. Today research and guidelines promote more open visiting policies. What is the experience of patients, relatives and caregivers? How does this policy affect ICU culture and quality of care?