Activists, MPs: Patient’s relatives should have access to the Intensive Care and Resuscitation unit


Civil society advocates for access to the intensive care, with support of government and certain parliamentarians, arguing the importance of the innovation.

Kyiv, May 25, 2016. Parliament has registered draft law № 4649, stipulating that the management of health institutions or doctors have to admit the relatives, guardian or caretaker to the patient is in the Intensive Care and Resuscitation Unit. This was stated by Olena Sotnyk, MP (“Samopomich” faction), co-author of the draft law, at a briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “Late last year I myself faced with this problem. My husband lapsed into an apoplectic coma and was in the Intensive Care and Resuscitation Unit. The first thing that I saw – a closed door. Then there were the four terrible days at the door of the Intensive Care and Resuscitation Unit and distressful uncertainty. We managed to raise money and leave for treatment in Israel. Now my husband confesses that if I had not been holding his hand all the time, he would have died,” said Ms. Sotnyk.

She believes that open Intensive Care and Resuscitation Units will strengthen public control over sanitary standards, will enable people to avoid unjustified listings of drugs, will ensure adherence to treatment regimen, and will remove the issue of secrecy and corruption in this area. “Closed Intensive Care and Resuscitation Units are a Soviet throwback. Three problems concealed behind the closed doors: the unaccounted drugs provided or not provided to patients; uncontrolled care: you do not know whether your loved one receives the necessary care or not; and of course, relatives are best service controllers. That is why Intensive Care and Resuscitation Units are closed for relatives,” believes Olena Sotnyk.

According to Mykola Kuleba, Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Presidential Administration of Ukraine, the law does not guarantee open doors of Intensive Care and Resuscitation Units. “We need to change the consciousness of society and parents including,” he is convinced. He reminded that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child bans to separate the child from the parents except by the court order. Mykola Kuleba hopes that by the end of this year none of the doors of Intensive Care and Resuscitation Units will be closed to parents.


Zoryana Chernenko, senior expert of “Reanimation Package of Reforms” Medical Reform Group, co-author of the draft law, added that a communication program should be introduced in higher education institutions, intended to teach doctors to communicate with patients. “Students are taught that they should reprove the patient to avoid his interference. Their professors were taught the same way. Ethics textbooks contain the principles of paternalism. But when one begins to explain it to the students, they understand that will benefit from such a situation,” Ms. Chernenko is convinced. “Health is not only physical standards. It should be approached comprehensively. Health is also psychological. The patient can be discharged from the hospital not only with cured kidneys, but also with mental stress,” she added.

Anastasia Leukhina, co-initiator of the Ministry of Healthcare decree “On respect of patients’ rights and assuring access of family members to the patients who are being treated in intensive care units,”
noted that the access to Intensive Care Units is based on a dilemma: how to treat the patient, “as a person or as a body.” “When we close the body in the Resuscitation Unit, we have a total control over it. We try to show doctors and patients that they are human beings. It is not a question of customer servicing, it is a banal issue of human dignity and respect,” believes Ms. Leukhina.

Pediatrician Andriy Penkov stressed that it is important to move away from the paternalistic relationship between doctor and patient and to build partnerships. He noted that 25 percent of all who have been in the Intensive Care and Resuscitation Units experience long-term effects. Among them: the deterioration of sleep, fears and phobias. Besides, reduced self-esteem and violations of interaction with peers is observed in children. According to Andriy  Penkov, there is even a special term –  a stress caused by medical intervention.