Open visitation increases safety, enhances patient satisfaction

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

September 3, 2014

A Tennessee hospital is the latest to experiment with an open visitation policy for its patients, claiming that letting family members visit when they want makes patients happier and does not contribute to an increased safety risk, according to a report in the Times Free Press of Chattanooga.

Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga recently began a new policy that allows family members to visit ICU patients up to 16 hours a day—a change from a previous policy that only allowed only 90 minutes of visitation, according to the report. A survey of 600 hospitals quoted in the report found that three-quarters limit visiting hours, and nearly 90 percent of ICUs have restrictive policies.

The report found that patients and their families appear to be much happier being able to spend time with their loved ones, but that nurses and hospital staff still need to be vigilant and keep control of the patient’s room, especially if the patient’s condition deteriorates. Staff may still have to ask families to leave or decide not allow them to enter in order to properly care for one of their patients.