For a study, researchers sought to conduct a web-based survey (March–July 2021) to investigate ICU visiting practices before the pandemic, during the peak of COVID-19 ICU admissions, and at the survey response time. They sought information on visiting policies and modes of communication, including virtual visiting (videoconferencing). Investigators received 667 valid responses from ICUs across all continents. Before the pandemic, 20% (106/525) of facilities had unrestricted visiting hours, while 6% (30/525) did not permit in-person visits. At its peak, 84% (558/667) of facilities did not permit in-person visits for COVID-19 patients, compared to 66% for patients without the virus. This proportion had decreased to 55% (369/667) when the survey results were reported. About 53% (354/646) of respondents reported a government mandate restricting hospital visits. Most intensive care units (55%, 353/615) provided regular telephone updates; 50% (306/667) conducted formal meetings and discussions regarding prognosis or end-of-life via telephone. Virtual visiting was available in 63% (418/667) of instances at the time of the survey. During the epidemic’s early stages, extremely restricted visiting restrictions were implemented. These policies were gradually relaxed but did not revert to the standards before the pandemic. As a result, the telephone has overtaken virtual visits as the primary mode of patient communication in most intensive care units.

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