Should the family be present during resuscitation?

edited December 1969 in Random Issues
Last moments of anyone’s life are usually marked by intense resuscitation efforts. Some medical professionals fear litigation, trauma to onlookers, confusion, and interference in resuscitation. On the other hand, family members' presence may help them understand the severity of the patient's condition and to appreciate their loved one's care.

Should the family be present during resuscitation?


  • The answer is NO..... definately NOT. Please let me explain why:

    1) I don't think their presence will make them appreciate the severity of their LOVED one's illness even if they can see their heart has stopped, and by the way that also goes if some members are medically qualified... If a loved one has passed away a person anguish and heartache will be the overiding emotion.
    2) From my experience (as a trainee cardiologist) resuscitation is not the most dignified or "humane" (commonly breaking some ribs in the process/ patient vomiting stomach content) process..... its not a good sight for a relative to see and to remember as the last thing about their loved one. It is also invariably unsuccessful
    3) I ALL cases with the exception of the resus area in the emergency department (at least here in UK) there isn't enough space around the bed side for crying/ stressed/ angry/ sad/ irrational relatives and the resus team and you are right they will just get in the way and the team leader might..... just might not be able to look at/ asess and deal with the situation in the most efficient manner. Even in the resus area there wouldn't be enough space for relatives if a trauma case is involved.
    4) About litigation personally I always keep the relatives (with patient consent if applicable) updated/ spend time explaining things/ answering their questions.... Not only for litigation but also because its the right thing to do and its good practice

    So the short answer to your question is....... NO
  • Thanks DrFMFIssa for your comment but what if you are not in a hospital setting for example airport or any public place where you were called for help and the patient was in a private room, you never met his/her family before and everyone around you is anxious to know what is going on... do you still ask his/her family to leave?
  • as a doctor, i think, once the doctor or resuss team has got used to the idea and there is someone taking care of the relatives so the resuss can happen uninterrupted, then it is ok. however, i did once nearly ask the patient's daughter to join in and do chest compressions when i assumed she was a student!  :-[
    so communication is important!
Sign In or Register to comment.