Improved privacy for patients at Cork University Maternity Hospital

The renovation of an emergency department in Cork’s maternity hospital affords patients a greater sense of privacy, a study has found.

Researchers found that only around one in five patients claimed they had adequate privacy while attending the emergency department in Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH).

However, almost nine out of 10 respondents expressed satisfaction with their levels of privacy following renovations to the ward which include the replacement of curtained patient areas with walled cubicles.

Overall, 21% of patients felt the layout of the emergency department at CUMH was adequate prior to the renovations but the figure rose to 89% after physical changes to the area.

Almost half of all women admitted they had overheard a conversation about themselves or another patient during their time in the emergency department before the changes. However, only around 10% report the same experience after the renovations.

Lucia Hartigan, one of the authors of the report, said the findings demonstrated that patients’ perception of privacy and confidentiality have been significantly improved by a change of environment after the refurbishment of the emergency department at CUMH.

Dr Hartigan, of the Pregnancy Loss Research Group at UCC’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said it is recognised that presentation to the emergency department was a significant source of patients’ complaints at the hospital and that many of these related to privacy and confidentiality.

“Our study shows that simply changing the layout or design of the emergency department in a maternity unit can impact favourably on the patient experience,” she said, adding that she is aware of at least one other maternity unit in Ireland which has carried out similar renovations as a result of the study’s findings.

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