Trend: Hospitals bring families into ICUs

Traditionally, hospitals have strictly limited families' contacts with seriously-ill patients in their intensive-care units. Of late, however, a small but growing number of hospitals are adopting a new model, under which hospitals invite patients to live with their vulnerable family members and assist in their care. This trend is spurred, in part, by a growing family-centered care movement backed by an expanding body of supporting research.

Emory University Hospital, for example, has added living quarters to its new neuroscience intensive care unit, adding chairs, beds, a sink, table and a Wi-Fi network in addition to communal bathrooms and showers and a common kitchen and lounge. Another example is Intermountain Health Care, which plans to open a new hospital with large intensive-care rooms that include pull-out sofa beds. 

This approach isn't easy for everyone. Nurses and doctors may be forced to change their working patterns--some call this setting a "fishbowl"--as well as perform invasive procedures in the presence of family members. Patients may be flooded with visitors, forcing even these more-flexible units to set some limits. But initial results suggests families are pleased with this approach, which helps them feel comfortable with the entire care process.

To get more background on this trend:
- read this article from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)

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