Family participation during resuscitation: an option

Ann Emerg Med. 1987 Jun;16(6):673-5. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(87)80069-0.


We began to question the fairness of a policy to exclude close family members from the treatment room during attempted resuscitation of cardiac arrest victims in 1982 after 13 of 18 surviving relatives (72%) who were surveyed about their experiences during the attempted resuscitation of a family member responded that they would have liked to have been present during the resuscitation. We report the results of a program instituted at that time that allowed selected family members to be present during resuscitation efforts. Family members were asked by a chaplain or nurse if they wished to be present in the resuscitation room, and those accepting were accompanied by a supporting emergency staff member who explained the milieu of the code room. None of the participants interfered with resuscitation efforts. Seventy persons who participated were later contacted by one of the chaplains and asked to complete a survey form. Forty-four of 47 respondents (94%) who had been present during resuscitation believed that they would participate again. Thirty-six (76%) thought that adjustment to the death or grieving was facilitated by their witnessing the resuscitation; 30 (64%) felt that their presence was beneficial to the dying family member. We conclude that lay person may wish to be with family members who may be dying even though resuscitation efforts are being made, and that it is reasonable to inquire about this wish. This experience has assisted the grieving process for many and has not interrupted or adversely affected medical efforts at resuscitation.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Grief
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personnel, Hospital / psychology
  • Resuscitation*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires