Introduction of open visiting policy in intensive care units in Ukraine: policy analysis and the ethical perspective

Asian Bioeth Rev. 2018 Jul 21;10(2):105-121. doi: 10.1007/s41649-018-0057-9. eCollection 2018 Jul.


Open visiting policy (OVP) in intensive care units (ICU) is considered a favorable visiting regime that may benefit patients and their family members as well as medical staff. The article examines the conditions and causes of OVP-making process in Ukraine and presents the ethical analysis of its implications with respect to the key stakeholders: ICU patients, family members, and medical staff. The OVP, established by the Ministry of Health in June, 2016, changes current approaches to the recognition of the role of families in critically ill patients' care dramatically; it does, however, have serious shortcomings. The analysis of risks and benefits showed that OVP does not adequately cater to the needs of all the key players-family members, patients, and medical staff. Moreover, there is no clear mechanism to control OVP implementation via feedback from all the key players (particularly patients and their families). These issues give rise to a concern that the implementation of OVP will die on the vine. In order to prevent this, a range of measures is required: the optimization of the ICU facilities and internal procedures, supervision of OVP implementation by policy-makers, training of medical staff, and providing family members with educational programs. Considering current shortcomings, it is crucially important to develop clear and consistent internal guidelines in hospitals that will guarantee the introduction of open ICU visiting and quality of critical care provisions.

Keywords: Ethical analysis; Intensive care unit; Open visiting policy; Policy-making; Ukraine.