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Waiting rooms and facilities available to patients' families and visitors in Italian pediatric ICUs: a national survey


Families of critically ill patients spend a considerable amount of time in hospital, both beside their loved ones in the ICU and outside the unit waiting to visit them or to receive news. No published data are available to date on the provision of waiting rooms in Italy's pediatric ICUs (PICUs) and on the facilities available to patients' families and visitors. We investigated these aspects in the course of a national survey concerning visiting policies in Italian PICUs.


An email questionnaire was sent to the heads of all 34 Italian PICUs asking about their visiting policies. Questions about waiting rooms and facilities for patients' families and visitors were also included.


The response rate was 100%. The median daily visiting time was 300 minutes (range 30 minutes to 24 hours). No waiting room was provided in 32% of PICUs. In other PICUs, families and visitors were provided with seats (50% of PICUs), armchairs (32%), lockers for personal effects (32%), magazines and books (18%), drinks machines (15%) and snack machines (6%). A bathroom was available to families and visitors in 41% of units, use of the PICU's kitchen in 3% and access to the hospital canteen in 47%.


Overall these data indicate that in Italian PICUs, alongside a clear tendency to apply restricted visiting policies, there is limited attention to the comfort of families of patients in the PICU. Comfort is one of five domains (in addition to reassurance, proximity, information and support) associated with the needs of families who have critically ill loved ones [1, 2]. Our survey could contribute to promoting more attentive and supportive care for the patient's family [3].


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Supported by Associazione per il Bambino Nefropatico, Milan, Italy.

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Giannini, A., Miccinesi, G., Montani, C. et al. Waiting rooms and facilities available to patients' families and visitors in Italian pediatric ICUs: a national survey. Crit Care 13 (Suppl 1), P486 (2009).

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  • Public Health
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Supportive Care
  • National Survey
  • Limit Attention