A model for how to meet the emergent needs of families of critically ill patients.

Escalating needs of the families of critical care patients can overwhelm intensive care unit (ICU) staffing resources, contribute to occupational stress1,2 and turnover for nurses at the bedside, and markedly affect patients’ response to illness.3,4 As overburdened staff nurses try to meet the needs of both patients and patients’ families, a disparity may develop between desired and achievable nursing goals.1 For example, the distraction of trying to meet a family’s needs may slow critical patient care.

In 2000, requests by patients’ families for information not only about the patients but also for the families’ personal needs (eg, lodging) overwhelmed staff nurses in the adult ICUs at St John Medical Center, a tertiary hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At the same time, telephone calls with requests for information on patients...

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