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Emergency departments increasingly allow parents and other family members to stay with children during resuscitation, but the practice isn’t universal.
The concern is often that distraught relatives will somehow interfere in the process and make it more difficult to appropriately treat pediatric patients. Results of a survey published in the American Journal of Critical Care suggest that is unlikely, however.
“The most frequently voiced concerns from healthcare providers about family presence are related to the well-being of families and the delivery of optimal patient care,” researchers at the George Washington University School of Medicine explain. “Studies evaluating family members’ experiences at the bedside and their perceptions of care during medical or trauma resuscitations have been limited by small numbers of participants and the use of singular data sets, usually surveys.”
To add information to the discussion, they measured attitudes, behaviors, and experiences of family members of pediatric patients undergoing trauma treatment. Results were from both family members who were present and those who were not.
The observational mixed-methods study employed structured interviews and focus groups at three level 1 pediatric trauma centers. Researchers interviewed 126 family members of children who met trauma team activation criteria, and 25 more also participated in focus groups.
Study authors report that average attitude scores indicated a positive attitude about being present, or wanting to be present, during the resuscitation phase of trauma care.
One reason for the high average scores is that 94% of parents and other relatives who were present during resuscitation said they provided emotional support for their child, and 92% said they provided healthcare information to the medical team. They responded that being in the room gave them an opportunity to advocate and provide comfort for their child, as well as understand their child’s condition.
Families in both groups emphasized that the choice to be present was their right, but agreed that it was appropriate to take bedside behavior into consideration, the study notes.
“Study findings demonstrated compelling family benefits for presence during pediatric trauma care,” the authors conclude. “This study is one of the first to report on family members who were not present. The practice of family presence should be made a priority at pediatric trauma centers.”