Visitation policy

General visitation guidelines

In the course of the visit it may be clinically or otherwise reasonably necessary for patient care, safety, or well-being to impose restrictions on visitation.

The physician or care nurse will exercise their clinical judgment to determine when restrictions are necessary for these purposes. If visitation restrictions are implemented, the reason for restrictions will be shared with the patient or support person and documented in the patient’s medical record.

The following are intended as examples of valid reasons to limit visitation, if deemed necessary:

  • Patient is undergoing care interventions with which visitation may interfere
  • Infection control issues
  • Visitation may interfere with the care of other patients
  • Existence of court orders restrict visitation or other contact
  • Disruptive, threatening, or violent behavior by a visitor of any kind
  • Need for limitation on the number of visitors in particular space or during a specific time period
  • Minimum age requirement for child visitors
    • Children under 12 may not be left unattended
      • However, under special circumstances, a child under 12 can be granted visiting privileges by oncology leadership
    • Babies of breast feeding mothers are allowed as long as the mother is present at all times
      • If mom is the patient it is recommended that another adult be present to help with the baby
    • If a patient is receiving treatment (radiation or chemotherapy) and brings children to the treatment there must be another responsible adult present to care for the child while the parent is getting treatment

Issues related to infection control

While recognizing that family and friends can play an important role in a patient’s recovery, the Hospital Infection Control Committee makes the following infection control recommendation for visitors.

  • Hand hygiene by washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based sanitizer should be done before entering and upon exciting a room.
  • Duke medical and nursing personnel are empowered to exclude any person from accompanying a patient at Duke who has symptoms of communicable disease until cleared by their personal physician or Duke medical personnel.
  • In the best interest of the patient, visitors (adults or children) who are currently ill or have had a fever, conjunctivitis, symptoms, or gastrointestinal illness or respiratory infections within the last 24 hours should not be allowed to visit until they have been symptom free for at least 24 hours.
  • Visitors who have been exposed to communicable disease to which they are not immune should not visit until a physician has determined that they are past the incubation period and deemed noninfectious. This includes such diseases as chickenpox and measles.
  • Visitors must wear shoes and shirts at all times while in the cancer center.
  • Persons visiting a patient that has been placed on airborne, contact, or droplet isolation should report to the nurses’ station before entering the patient’s room to receive proper education on the precautions they must take and the use of personal protective equipment when visiting the patient
  • Children 12 and over visiting patients on isolation (contact, droplet, or airborne) must: 

a. Be able to properly wear the personal protective equipment required for the type of isolation indicated
b. The parent or guardian accepts responsibility to ensure the child can and does properly wear the personal protective equipment
c. The parent or guardian must remain with the child at all times during the visit

Excessive number of guests

It is recommended to limit the number of people accompanying a patient to respect the privacy and health care needs of our patients.

  • Children under 12 should not be left unattended.
  • In the oncology treatment room it is recommended that the patient only have two visitors (over the age of 12) in the treatment room area.

In the event a visitor becomes uncooperative, disturbing, threatening, or presents a safety risk to patients, visitors, or staff; the visitor may be prohibited from the visit.