Fair Is Fair: Just Visiting Hours and Reducing Inequities

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Abstract

Although family is an essential unit of every society, many intensive care units continue to impose limitations on families' access to their loved ones. Unlimited family presence is backed both by data and the guidelines of multiple professional societies. We propose that the obligation to protect the integrity and needs of our patients and families extends past our immediate relationship to them at the bedside, and is also a societal imperative. In a society rife with implicit bias, restrictions on family visitation risk selective enforcement of these rules, and further propagate social injustice. Restrictions on family presence, including rigid hours, reflect an arbitrary vision based on increasingly obsolete socioeconomic realities. The time is now to open our intensive care units both on behalf of our patients and families, and for the betterment of our society as a whole.

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