Family presence during CPR


I am doing a proposal paper on the pros and cons of family presence during CPR. I am hoping to get some real opinions from real nurses who have been part of codes where family is present, and others where family has not been present. Please feel free to respond :smile:

Have you been part codes in which family members have been present vs codes when families are not present?

Did difficulties arise in situations where family members were present? If so please describe.

Was there a person designated as a family liaison?

What was the outcome of the code?

Did you feel as if the family member was in the way or otherwise interfering?

Did the code team function in the same way that they normally would, or were they distracted or uncomfortable in anyway?

What is your personal opinion about family presence during CPR?


My opinion: When CPR becomes necessary, unless the family member is getting in the way, the focus needs to be on the patient (at least by those involved w/ patient care) exclusively. Of coarse, if they are hysterical, or interfering, they need to be removed if possible, but short of that, they should not be a concern.
My experience: Giving CPR to a close friend while his wife was right there - she told me ( and everyone at his funeral, since he didn’t make it) that she was so glad I was there because she knows he had every chance to live, and still didn’t make it. She said she would have felt guilty if someone hadn’t been there to perform CPR (since she doesn’t know how). That he may have lived if she’d known more. But, since I was there, it gave her peace because she felt there was nothing more that could have been done.


I think having family in the room (as long as they aren’t being disruptive) is very helpful. It gives them a sense of closure and involvement in a distressing time. I also feel like having family at the bedside makes codes less…unbearable. When things get messy and drawn out, family often comes to terms and wants to end their loved one’s suffering. And when the patient makes it, I feel like they’ve been more trusting of the care team. The downside to this is family should NEVER be left alone during a code. They should be “assigned” one staff member (chaplain, care tech, RN, anyone with a level head really) to stay with them at all times. They need to be with the family to answer any questions (within their scope), comfort, and help sort of keep them in line. They can also help escort them to a quiet place if they choose to leave mid-code.

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