Open visitation, defined as unrestricted access (24 h/d) of patients in the adult intensive care unit (ICU) to chosen support persons, is an expected practice according to the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Evidence indicates that unrestricted visitation can improve communication, facilitate a better understanding of the patient, advance patient and family-centered care, and enhance staff satisfaction.

In our adult ICU, conflict was increasing between nurses who allowed family to visit anytime and to stay overnight, and nurses who adhered to the existing visitation policy (ie, visitors allowed with the patient for 10 minutes of each hour, and visits restricted between 7:30 and 8:30 am and between 3 and 4 pm). Several nurses wanted to develop a more family-centered approach to care, and a review of the literature supported open visitation as a strategy for promoting such care in adult ICUs.1,3 

We used the...

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