Round-the-Clock Visiting Hours May Be Good for Patients

Expanding hospital visiting hours to 24 hours increases patient and visitor satisfaction

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Hospital visiting hours are often restricted to allow patients rest, and doctors and nurses time to work. But a new study suggests that allowing hospital visits around the clock may make for happier patients and staff.

The study found that overall satisfaction scores improved for both patients and visitors after the visiting hour restrictions were removed.

The study allowed patients to make the final decision about who they saw and when.

The analysis showed the program was easy to set up and had little disruption to hospital staff or patients.

"Check your local hospital's policy before you visit."

This study was led by David J. Shulkin, MD, FACP, President at Morristown Medical Center, Vice President at Atlantic Health System and Professor of Medicine at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

The study began when Morristown Medical Center, a 690-bed acute care facility, started a 24-hour visitation policy.

The study looked for changes in the patient satisfaction ratings for eight months following the policy change.

The researchers noted that during that period, the hospital had 14,444 people visit patients between the hours of 8:00 PM and 5:00 AM, the hours visitation had been closed previously.

This study recorded no increase in security-related calls despite the increase in visitors.

The researchers noted that after hours, visitors were required to check in at a security desk where the patient was contacted and had the right to decide when and which people were allowed to visit.

The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey scores during the study increased from 71.7 to 76 out of 80 points from the quarter before the change to the first quarter after the start of the new schedule.

The researchers said that although the changes in satisfaction scores were not statistically significant, they did illustrate an upward trend.

Dr. Shulkin and his team concluded that both patients' and visitors' experiences were improved by the expansion of visiting hours. In addition, the team suggested that these changes can be put in place with little disruption to patients or to hospital employees.

The researchers said additional study is needed to look at the role visitations and family have on the patient’s outcome.

The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

This study was published December 18 in Journal of Healthcare Quality.

Review Date: 
December 18, 2013
Last Updated:
December 20, 2013