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Study: Lifting ICU Visitation Restrictions Improves Family Satisfaction

A recent article published in the American Journal of Critical Care found that eliminating visitation restrictions to the ICU improved family satisfaction. The authors noted that many ICUs continue to restrict visitation. The study authors suggested replacing ICU visitation restrictions with a policy that is limited solely by the patient’s preference and clinical status. Nurses in hospitals with such policies noted positive visitor satisfaction and reported no decrease in nursing satisfaction.

Visitation plays an important role in the care of hospital patients. In December 2011, CMS added 32 pages of visitation standards to its hospital Conditions of Participation that recommend open visitation in the ICU and critical care units – a quality initiative also taken by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Both CMS and IHI found that open visitation hours did not cause physiologic stress for patients, barriers to the provision of care, nor exhaustion for family or friends.

The current CMS hospital CoP manual, November 20, 2015, is available at and starts at tag number 215.