In the hospital setting, there are few moments that are as intense as the events that take place when trying to save an arresting patient’s life. Yet family presence during resuscitation efforts has become an important and controversial ethical issue in health care settings. Families are requesting permission to witness such events. Members of the health care team are split on this issue, noting benefits but also potentially adverse consequences to family presence during resuscitation efforts. As nurses, it is our responsibility to find the delicate balance between what is best for the patient, the family, and the institution. The purpose of this paper is to present an objective exploration of the ethical dilemma of family presence during resuscitation in adult patients from the perspectives of each of the key players — the family, the patient, and members of the health care team. Evidence currently indicates that family members would prefer to be present during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (Benjamin, Holger, & Carr, 2004). Despite a lack of evidence of psychological trauma from families witnessing resuscitation efforts, members of the health care team have certain misgivings regarding family presence. At times during the course of these debates, it seems that the perspectives of the people at the center of the issue — the patients themselves — are overlooked. The literature indicates that there is quite a difference in opinion among family, health care staff, and patients when it comes to whether or not families should be present during resuscitation. Additional research needs to be conducted regarding the perspectives of the members of the health care team in order to either validate their concerns or to emphasize the need for educational efforts aimed at discrediting inaccurate assumptions.
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