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Visiting policies in Italian pediatric ICUs: a national survey


Until recently no studies had been carried out concerning visiting policies in adult ICUs in Italy [1]. Moreover, today no data are as yet available on visiting policies in Italy's pediatric ICUs (PICUs). We carried out a national survey to evaluate visiting policies in Italian PICUs.


An email questionnaire was sent to the heads of all 34 Italian PICUs asking about their visiting policies.


The response rate was 100%. The median daily visiting time was 300 minutes (range 30 min–24 hours). Only 12% of surveyed PICUs have unrestricted policies where one parent is allowed to be present both day and night, while 59% of PICUs do not allow the constant presence of a parent even during the day. Children were not permitted to visit in 76% of PICUs. In the case of a dying patient, 6% of PICUs did not alter their policy; 71% extended visiting hours; 62% increased the number of slots; and 44% allowed more visitors. A gowning procedure was compulsory for visitors in 94% of PICUs. No waiting room was provided by 32% of PICUs. In 16 units (48%) a formal process of revision of the ward's visiting policies was underway.


Despite the widely held conviction that there is no sound scientific basis for restricting visitors in ICUs [24], our findings show a clear tendency in Italian PICUs to apply restrictive visiting policies. They are nevertheless slightly more liberal than policies in Italian adult ICUs [1]. In addition, it should be noted that in about one-half of ICUs a revision of current policies is underway. Our survey could contribute towards liberalizing visiting policies in Italian PICUs and promoting more attentive care for the patient and his/her family.


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The study was supported by Associazione per il Bambino Nefropatico (Milan, Italy).

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Giannini, A., Miccinesi, G., Leoncino, S. et al. Visiting policies in Italian pediatric ICUs: a national survey. Crit Care 12, P530 (2008).

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  • Public Health
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Formal Process
  • Scientific Basis
  • National Survey