Imagine being separated from your family or loved one during your stay in the hospital or ICU. Maybe you’re even in pain and critically ill, or you’re told you can’t be with your spouse because “visiting hours are over.”

This is an unfortunate reality for thousands of patients across the country. Each day, hospitals enforce outdated visiting policies based on beliefs that visitors spread infection and disrupt patient care. Research tells a different story, showing little evidence to back up these antiquated ideas. In fact, studies show that having a loved one by your side can reduce patient stress and complications as well as improve patient satisfaction in the hospital. With the evidence for change piling up, the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care (IPFCC, a Burness client), recently launched a campaign, Better Together: Partnering with Families, to encourage hospitals to welcome families 24 hours a day. But keeping the door open for families isn’t enough. In order to reap the benefits, hospitals must begin to engage patients’ families and loved ones in decisions regarding the patient’s welfare.

The campaign has spotlighted 12 hospitals that are models, showing how we can move from restrictive visiting policies while evolving beyond the concept of families as “visitors.” IPFCC hopes that 1,000 hospitals will change their restrictive policies as a result of the campaign.

Read this New York Times article about Better Together that paints a picture of how restrictive policies can actually put patients at risk and how patients’ families can be powerful allies in ensuring patient safety and quality care.

Learn more about the campaign at IPFCC’s website.