To improve medical outcomes in intensive care units, some hospitals are attempting to make units more accessible for patients’ family and caregivers. Allowing patients to have more access to their families have been shown to reduce hospital stays, improve satisfaction, and help prepare patients for post-discharge, according to Giora Netzer, MD, a critical care specialist at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) in an interview with The Baltimore Sun.
“It’s not just more humane care, it ends up being better healthcare,” Netzer said.
Netzer also helped develop guidelines for the Society of Critical Care Medicine that give providers strategies to better include family members in patient care. This includes having an “open or flexible” place by the patient’s bed, having a place for family members to sleep, and educating the family as part of clinical care. It also includes giving patients’ family’s mental, emotional, and spiritual support to reduce anxiety, stress, depression, or risk for post-traumatic stress disorder in certain instances.
The UMMC has implemented the guideline recommendations and now offers larger rooms to accommodate family members. The facility eliminated visiting hours and makes social workers available to work with relatives on the discharge instructions. UMMC is also has a pilot program where family members attend medical rounds.