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J Crit Care. 2009 Dec;24(4):626.e7-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2009.02.007. Epub 2009 May 8.

Family meetings made simpler: a toolkit for the intensive care unit.

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Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.


Although a growing body of evidence has associated the intensive care unit (ICU) family meeting with important, favorable outcomes for critically ill patients, their families, and health care systems, these meetings often fail to occur in a timely, effective, and reliable way. In this article, we describe 3 specific tools that we have developed as prototypes to promote more successful implementation of family meetings in the ICU: (1) a family meeting planner, (2) a meeting guide for families, and (3) a family meeting documentation template. We describe the essential features of these tools and ways that they might be adapted to meet the local needs of individual ICUs and to maximize acceptability and use. We also discuss the role of such tools in structuring a performance improvement initiative. Just as simple tools have helped reduce bloodstream infections, our hope is that the toolkit presented here will help critical care teams to meet the important communication needs of ICU families.

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