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Eur J Emerg Med. 2010 Aug;17(4):203-7. doi: 10.1097/MEJ.0b013e328331477e.

Patients' and relatives' view on witnessed resuscitation in the emergency department: a prospective study.

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. Department of Emergency Medicine, KLINA Regional Hospital, Augustijnslei 100, B2930 Brasschaat, Belgium.



The appropriateness of family witnessing resuscitation (FWR) is an ethical dilemma with most emergency care providers being opponents. We hypothesized that patients and their families prefer to witness resuscitation of their loved ones.


One hundred and fifty patients treated for potential life-threatening conditions in our emergency department were presented with a survey on FWR in the reconvalescence phase. They were asked to give their opinion supposing their situation had worsened, requiring a resuscitation effort. Their closest relatives were asked to complete a related questionnaire.


Mean age was 67 years (patient group) and 55 years (relatives group). Fifty-eight percent of the patients were males with only 33% males in the relatives group. Seventy-two percent of the patients preferred the presence of a relative during resuscitation, although 35% estimate that this could be quite a traumatic experience. Forty-one percent had a history of serious medical problems. In the relatives group, 75% expressed their wish to stay with their loved ones and 49% did not fear that this would be too traumatic. There was a good match in patient and family attitude towards FWR (P<0.001). Relatives of a patient with a serious medical history were significantly more in favour of FWR (P<0.01).


Our study showed that patients and relatives preferred family presence in emergency department during resuscitation, even when the fear of traumatic effects is considered. It will be a great challenge training emergency care providers for this situation. Staff shortages might compromise the essential support of family members in such situations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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