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Hospitals Urged to Review Visitation Policies

Lena J. Weiner, for HealthLeaders Media, July 2, 2014

Visitation rules based on "outdated beliefs that frequent contact with loved ones interferes with care" neglect the negative consequences of restrictive policies, says a group that advocates for family-centered care.

Hospitals are considering allowing families 24 hour access to their loved ones—but some hospital employees worry that relaxing security policies will come to mean the end of boundaries in care settings.

The Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care (IPFCC) is challenging hospitals to reevaluate their visitation policies. Through its Better Together Campaign, IPFCC hopes to raise awareness of the benefits of unrestrictive visitation policies and make hospital leaders aware of negative consequences associated with restrictive visitation policies.

"It's really tragic that the majority of hospitals in the US have restricted visiting policies, and there's no evidence that it's the right thing to do," says Beverly Johnson, president and CEO at IPFCC said in a phone call. Nevertheless, restrictions are the norm.

"All too often, families and loved ones are prevented from being with patients, leaving them alone and isolated, often when they need support the most," says IPFCC's Johnson. "These policies are based on outdated beliefs that frequent contact with loved ones interferes with care, exhausts the patient, or spreads infection; research and hospitals' experience show that these just aren't true."

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