Should family members be present at resuscitation?

  • Timmis V
  • Arch Dis Child
  • 28 Nov 2019

  • curated by Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Medical News
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For parents/caregivers of children being resuscitated, does observing the resuscitation improve the family’s psychological coping and satisfaction with care? That is the question posed by Dr Victoria Timmis, General Paediatrician at Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust.

In the Annals of Disease in Childhood, Dr Timmins presents the findings of an analysis of relevant papers identified on a search of Ovid Medline on 15 March 2019.

In one systematic review of six articles, parents showed a desire to be present. They felt their presence was helpful to the child. Over half of parents who were not present wished they had been, and 100 per cent of parents that had been present for resuscitation in the ED would choose to be present again.

Two studies evaluated healthcare professionals’ perspective. In an American study, 95 of 137 respondents felt families should be present. Those against familial presence were concerned about the distress for families, added anxiety for the medical team, and litigation. Professionals in favour of familial presence suggested it allows families to feel involved in care, helped the trauma team feel appreciated and reduced the concern of legal proceedings.

In a French study, 17 per cent of responding healthcare professionals were in favour of parental presence. The reasons cited for being against familial presence were concern about the psychological trauma faced by parents, families interfering with medical management and increased stress for the care team.

Dr Timmis commented that while many professionals cited distress to the family as a reason against familial presence, families themselves felt being present reduced distress and anxiety.

“Familial presence in the resuscitation room can be beneficial for families for a variety of reasons, however, further research is needed on this and how it should be best applied in practice,” she concluded.