Jerome Wang

Enhance RN Initiated Family Update in PACU During the Covid Pandemic

PICO Question:

Does Education on Strengthening Communication between PACU Nurses and Patient’s Family during Covid Pandemic Impact Timely PACU Family Update and Patient/Family’s Satisfaction?


Updating family members had become crucial to reduce patient/family anxiety. Improving nursing education on how to update the patient’s family using text messaging and voice/video call can strengthen the communication between the PACU nurse and patient’s family.


UCSF ML PACU is a fast-paced unit with daily cases ranging in the 70s. Prior to the Pandemic, routine family visitation was offered without compromising patient privacy and PACU workflow. Observing family/ caregivers anxiously waiting to see their loved ones and receive in person postoperative updates was not unusual. Once the COVID pandemic started, PACU visitation had become highly restrictive and a newly revised visitation policy was underway, which did not allow visitors into the PACU area.

Strategy/Implementation/ Methods:

Data collection was completed monthly from April 2020 to July 2020, with one collection pre implementation of the project followed by three post implementations of the project. Each month thirty surgical cases were randomly selected from three different days. Data collection involved auditing nursing documentation including whether the PACU nurse texted family within 30 mins and/or a voice/video call within 60 mins of patient arriving to the PACU. Quality Improvement data was also retrieved from the hospital data dashboard.

Implementational education was conducted through repeated group e-mails, unit huddles, monthly staff meetings, in-services by unit champions and the posted tips sheet.


Through a variety of educational implementations, updating the family either via texting or voice call was significantly increased from April to July. Updates to family via text or voice/video call was 46.7% in April, followed 66.7% in May, 86.7% in June and 86.7% in July. Updates within the designated time frame of 30 minutes with texts and 60 minutes with voice/video call was slightly improved from 20.0% in April to post-months 36.7% in May, 30.0% in June and 33.3% in July. Some improvement in patient/family satisfaction was reflected in the hospital QI data.

The postoperative update by the surgical team was important, but not included in this current study.

Conclusions/Implications for Practice:

During the COVID pandemic, timely PACU family update is crucial to minimize their anxiety. Guided by evidence-based practice, continuing staff education we can strengthen nurse and family communication, decrease patient/family anxiety, optimize PACU care and increase patient/family’s satisfaction.