OBJECTIVE: To assess doctors' and nurses' views on the presence of relatives in the resuscitation room during cardiac arrest or major trauma. DESIGN: Questionnaires were sent to accident and emergency (A&E) nurses and doctors of all disciplines in a London teaching hospital. Recipients were asked if they would favour the presence of selected relatives in the resuscitation room and to give comments. RESULTS: 103 questionnaires were distributed and 81 returned, a response rate of 78.6%; 33% were senior house officers, 29% consultants, 16% senior registrars/registrars, 12% A&E nurses, and 10% house officers. Of the respondents, 63% were not in favour of relatives being present, and 37% were in favour. The likelihood of being in favour of allowing relatives to be present was high among A&E nurses; among doctors it increased with rising seniority. Most respondents felt that more resuscitation training would be necessary, in addition to counselling for staff and relatives. CONCLUSIONS: Staff with the least experience in dealing with resuscitations and distressed relatives were likely to be opposed to relatives being present in the resuscitation room. As there is evidence that the bereavement process is eased if a partner/relative witnesses the resuscitation, relatives should be offered the opportunity to witness resuscitation if staff training is geared towards the presence of relatives. ALS/ATLS training for all hospital doctors and nurses should include the management of distressed relatives observing a resuscitation.
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