Family presence during resuscitation is the compassionate practice of allowing a patient’s family to witness treatment for cardiac or respiratory arrest (code blue event) when appropriate. Offering family presence during resuscitation as an interprofessional practice is consistent with patient- and family-centered care. In many institutions, the role of family facilitator is not formalized and may be performed by various staff members. At the large academic institution of this study, the family facilitator is a member of the chaplain staff.


To examine the frequency of family presence during code blue events and describe the role of chaplains as family facilitators.


Chaplain staff documented information about their code responses daily from January 2012 through April 2020. They documented their response time, occurrence of patient death, presence of family at the event, and services they provided. A retrospective data review was performed.


Chaplains responded to 1971 code blue pages during this time frame. Family members were present at 53% of code blue events. Chaplains provided multiple services, including crisis support, compassionate presence, spiritual care, bereavement support, staff debriefing, and prayer with and for patients, families, and staff.


Family members are frequently present during code blue events. Chaplains are available to respond to all such events and provide a variety of immediate and longitudinal services to patients, families, and members of the health care team. Their experience in crisis management, spiritual care, and bereavement support makes them ideally suited to serve as family facilitators during resuscitation events.

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