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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Family Presence in the Emergency Room

In ?Being There? (p. 34), in the April 3, 2006, issue of The New Yorker, Jerome Groopman reports on the controversial practice of ?family presence,? in which patients? relatives are permitted to witness CPR and other, often gruesome, resuscitation attempts in the emergency room. The policy, Groopman writes, ?is spreading, promoted in many instances by chaplains and nurses over the objections of doctors. (There are no reliable data, but advocates estimate that as many as half of American hospitals allow some form of family presence.)? Groopman notes that while laypeople are now routinely involved in decisions at the National Institutes of Health and on hospital review boards, ?family presence in emergency rooms, which is part of this larger trend, remains controversial. Not only does it represent an incursion by the public into medicine?s inner sanctum; more than any other recent development, it reveals the extent to which the power to decide how medicine is practiced is no longer an exclusive prerogative of doctors.?


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