Should Family Members Watch as Their Dying Loved Ones Get CPR?

The benefits and disadvantages of family presence during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) have been argued since it was proposed in 1987. The possibilities of stress for health care providers and increased emotional burden for family members as well as risk of legal claims have been the central argument points.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March 2013 found out that family members who watch health care providers perform (CPR) on their loved ones were less likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder. They also experienced less anxiety and depression symptoms. The quality of CPR, the level of CPR performers’ emotional stress, patient survival rate and medico-legal claims were found to be not affected by the presence of family members.

This 570-participant study done in France concluded that being present during CPR might help families understand that emergency technicians have done everything possible to save the patient’s life. It might offer family opportunities to say goodbye to their loved ones and help them with the bereavement process. The study was done in the home setting for patients with cardiac arrest. Trials in hospitals, such as emergency rooms and intensive care units, are needed to confirm the results, according to the researchers of the study.