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Should Families Be Present During Resuscitation?

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Having read the article “Should families be present during resuscitation?”, I was persuaded by L. Laskowski-Jones that there are situations when family members should be permitted to be at the bedside during resuscitation. This paper will discuss the benefits of family presence, the education, policies and protocols necessary for the presence. It will also seek to justify why the families of a patient undergoing resuscitation and invasive procedures should be given the option of being present at the bedside during resuscitation.

Through a systematic review of Laskowski article, I understood why the families of the patient should be present during resuscitation. I have also found that the idea of the presence of families during resuscitation is supported by the American Heart Association (AHA, 2005) and the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA, 2005).  According to Laskowski, these two professional organizations put forth the significant influence of the presence of the families due to the facility standards (Laskowski-Jones, 2007).

The argument beside this issue is not just for family members, but also for the health care professionals. Health care team might be concerned that the families should be allowed to follow every procedure during resuscitation so as to reduce their chances of filing a lawsuit, especially in the case of patient’s death. The health professionals also fear that family members may be traumatized by the sights of the process and be unable to bear the graphic scene: it can cause weakness and injury of themselves. Nevertheless, I believe that some individuals can cope with anxiety, fear, and grief. Such individuals are able to cope with the situation without anger and violence and thus, such individual should be selected among the family members.

Although the health professionals are concerned that family members may obstruct patient care and distract health care professionals from care decisions and tasks, and, probably, hinder resuscitation interventions. The health professionals should exercise their professionalism while the family members provide any critical information that may be required, thus saving time.  The health care professionals should not have anxiety about their performance and/or feel distress about not being able to keep professional distance.

Laskowski-Jones (2007) also presents several reasons why family members should be permitted to be at the bedside during resuscitation. Nurses and doctors may consider it as the right thing to do. The presence of the family member’s may increase the patient’s desire to live. The encouragement provided by a family member may arouse the patient’s will to fight for life.

Presence of a family member may make it easier for the health professionals to access needed informational support such as useful information about the patient’s medical history.  It is essential for the family members to observe the health care professionals’ intense life-saving interventions; this may help them to come to the reality of the gravity of the illness and inescapable death.

There are several reasons as to why health care professionals disapprove family presence. The possible liability and violations of confidentiality is taken to the consideration; and also if family members witness an error or misunderstand the interventions. In some cases, a family may lose confidence in the competence of the health professionals (Laskowski-Jones, 2007). Family presence may, however decrease chances of laxity and thus error, nevertheless when family and health care providers believe a death was definite, they leave feeling positive about the experience.

It is essential for families to evaluate for themselves the process of resuscitation. They will, therefore, conclude whether the best was done.  These will help them to show gratitude to the health moments.  This will help the health care workers to feel inspired and renewed; they will know without doubt that the family truly believed that the best was done and it was the patient’s time to die. Family members may also feel that they tried their best for being there until the last moment of patient’s life.

For family members, presence at the bedside during these critical times is more beneficial, so awareness of the new standard of care among health care professionals should be created. Information should be provided on situations in which family members’ presence has been beneficial, this will promote comprehension and help to build more positive attitude among the health professionals.

In conclusion, it is necessary to underline that presence of family members during resuscitation should be considered with all seriousness. The family should designate one or two members to be the “family support facilitators.”  These should be people who are able to cope and not interfere with resuscitation efforts. They should be able to prepare the family members with what to expect, and notify the members that the team’s priority is resuscitation of the patient. 

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