Background: The question of whether or not to allow family to be present during resuscitation is relevant to everyday professional health care assistance, but it remains largely unexplored in the medical literature.
Objectives: We conducted an online survey with the aim of increasing our knowledge and understanding of this issue.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional, multicenter, descriptive, national, and international study using a webbased, voluntary survey. The survey was designed and distributed through a medical website in Spanish, targeting physicians who frequently deal with critical patients.
Results: A total of 1,286 Argentine physicians and 1,848 physicians from other countries responded to this voluntary survey. Of Argentine respondents, 15.8% (203) treat only children, 68.2% (877) treat adults, and 16% (206) treat patients of any age. The survey found that 23% (296) of Argentine and 20% of other respondents favor the presence of family members during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (p = 0.03). This practice was more common among physicians treating pediatric and neonatal patients than among those who treat adults. The most commonly reported reason (21.8%) for avoiding the presence of relatives was concerns that physicians, communications, and medical practices might be misunderstood or misinterpreted.
Conclusions: Avoiding relatives’ presence while performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation is the most frequent choice made by the surveyed physicians who treat critical Argentine patients. The main causes for discouraging family presence during cardiopulmonary resuscitation or other critical procedures include the following: risk of misinterpretation of the physician’s actions and/or words; risk of a relative’s decompensation; uncertainty about possible reactions; and interpretation of the relative’s presence as negative.
Relatives’ presence during CPR has been recommended.
Around only 20% of the Spanish-speaking physicians offer for the family to be present during CPR.
Pediatricians and neonatologists offer family presence more often than physicians taking care of adult patients do.