Updated: Jan 4, 2022
Opinion piece by Incluve Labs team member - Dr. Sonali Vaid, on why we need allow loved ones into the #ICU.
Give them time, an N95 mask & a place to sit at the bedside.
Loved ones are not “visitors” in a patients life, they are integral partners in care.
Even before covid, many ICUs permitted visitors for few mins or a max of an hour or two. The usual reason - that of infection control - although well-intentioned - is not supported by evidence. ICUs with expanded visitor hours have not shown rise in infections. https://t.co/oUUvrvWLTg
Since 2020, due to concerns of COVID spread- visitors are banned in many ICUs. However, a 14 country multicenter study shows that visitation reduced risk of delirium on the next day in ICU patients by about 30%. (Delirium worsens the risk of death) https://t.co/49E9r10ovM
Not being able to see loved ones causes distress and reduces trust with the care team and in the health system more broadly. People may even hesitate to come to hospitals if they fear they won’t get to see their loved ones.
It is not simple to change visitor policies. ICU teams need support & hospital management and governments need to be on board. Change will not happen in one day.
Provide good N95 masks to visitors. Full body PPE suits are unnecessary - given that touch is not a major source of spread. Improve ventilation and fresh airflow in ICUs and hospitals in general.
I wrote this with the hope of initiating conversation & action.
Please reply here or DM if you wish to share ICU experiences or ideas - as a patient, family member or as a health worker.
Change will only come when the public and health care providers work together.
This piece is dedicated to all those who had to suffer through critical illness - often in isolation - and their loved ones.
May we be able to effect change for the better.
Reclaim compassion as a core value of patient care.
Allow loved ones to visit patients in the ICU. The benefits outweigh the risks.