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Is Open Visitation Really "Open" in Adult Intensive Care Units in the United States?
American Journal of Critical Care
  • Kerry A. Milner, Sacred Heart University
  • Susan A. Goncalves, Sacred Heart University
  • Suzanne Marmo, Sacred Heart University
  • Sheryl Cosme, American Nurses Credentialing Center
Document Type
Peer-Reviewed Article
Publication Date

Background: Evidence indicates that open visitation in adult intensive care units is a best practice for patient- and family-centered care, and nurses substantially influence such visitation patterns. However, it is unclear whether intensive care units in Magnet and Pathway to Excellence (MPE) facilities nationwide implement this in practice. Methods: From February through April 2018, websites of MPE hospitals were reviewed in order to identify their adult intensive care unit visitation policy. If this information was unavailable online, the hospital was telephoned to obtain the policy. From May through August 2018, follow-up telephone calls were made to hospitals that reported open visitation, during which intensive care unit nurses at the hospitals were asked to verify that the policy did not restrict visiting hours or the number, type, or age of visitors. Results: Among the 536 MPE hospitals contacted, 51% (n = 274) indicated that they allowed open visitation. Further examination, however, revealed that 64% (n = 175) restricted the number (68.2%), age (59.5%), or type (4.4%) of visitors, or visiting hours (19.8%). Only 18.5% of MPE hospitals (n = 99) allowed unrestricted visitation. Conclusion: This study suggests a lack of progress toward implementing open visitation in adult intensive care units nationwide. Research on MPE hospitals that have adopted truly open visitation policies is needed to identify successful methods for implementing and sustaining open visitation.


Supported by a University Research and Creativity Grant of Sacred Heart University.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
Citation Information

Milner, K. A., Goncalves, S., Marmo, S., & Cosme, S. (2020). Is open visitation really "open" in adult intensive care units in the United States?. American Journal of Critical Care, 29(3), 221‐225. doi:10.4037/ajcc2020331