Hospital opens up ICU rooms to families

In a move that's becoming more common every day, influential Boston hospital Brigham and Women's has set plans to build a new wing providing family sleeping areas in all of the rooms, including its ICU areas. This follows on recommendations from Institute for Healthcare Improvement president Dr. Donald Berwick, who for years has suggested that hospitals should open ICUs and provide more support to families. Berwick has argued that a family presence can actually improve quality of care, in part because family members may catch errors.

Rooms in Brigham and Women's new 136-bed cardiovascular unit will be as large as 350 square feet, or double the size of existing hospital rooms. The family area will include a pull-out bed with linens and a flat-screen television. Not only will the rooms make it easier for families to visit, it will make it easier for loved ones to get involved in patient care. Physicians and nurses there will encourage family members to provide basic care, including baths and bandage changes, and will allow some members to remain in the room during virtually any procedure. To make sure family members don't distract nurses from providing critical care, the unit has established ground rules spelling out what limits families must observe.

To find out more about Brigham and Women's plans (and open ICUs):
- read this piece from The Boston Globe