Original articles

Family-witnessed resuscitation in emergency departments: Doctors' attitudes and practices

E D Gordon, E Kramer, Ian Couper, P Brysiewicz


Background. Resuscitation of patients occurs daily in emergency departments. Traditional practice entails family members remaining outside the resuscitation room.
Objective. We explored the introduction of family witnessed resuscitation (FWR) as it has been shown to allow closure for the family when resuscitation is unsuccessful and helps them to better understand the last moments of life.
Results. Attending medical doctors have concerns about this practice, such as traumatisation of family members, increased pressure on the medical team, interference by the family, and potential medico-legal consequences. There was not complete acceptance of the practice of FWR among the sample group.
Conclusion. Short-course training such as postgraduate advanced life support and other continued professional development activities should have a positive effect on this practice.The more experienced doctors are and the longer they work in emergency medicine, the more comfortable they appear to be with the concept of FWR and therefore the more likely they are to allow it. Further study and course attendance by doctors has a positive influence on the practice of FWR.

Authors' affiliations

E D Gordon,

E Kramer, department of emergency medicine , faculty of health sciences, university of witwatersrand

Ian Couper,

P Brysiewicz, School of nursing, university of kwazulu-natal

Full Text



Family witnessed resuscitation

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2011;101(10):765-767.

Article History

Date submitted: 2011-05-06
Date published: 2011-09-27

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