Survey: Patients feel safer in crowded wards than A&E

Survey: Patients feel safer in crowded wards than A&E

By Lynne Kelleher

Patients prefer waiting in an extra bed in a ward than in an overcrowded A&E to get more sleep, feel safer and get more dignity in some cases research shows.

The research, just published in the Irish Medical Journal, into patient attitudes to waiting in overcrowded emergency departments discovered they prefer to be an extra patient on a ward rather than waiting in A&E for a permanent bed. Many feel they would get a better night’s sleep, while some feel safer and others feel they would get more dignity and respect on a ward than in the emergency department.

The study carried out in Beaumont Hospital found more than eight out of 10 patients prefer being an additional patient on the ward – these patients are usually kept on a trolley in a ward corridor.

There were 99 participants in the questionnaire in the emergency department who ranged in age from 18 to 82. The study led by Peadar Gilligan, consultant in Emergency Medicine at Beaumont Hospital, highlighted delays in moving patients from emergency admission to wards in a “timely manner”.

Just over half of patients (54%) feel safer in an extra bed on the ward than in the A&E, while 35% feel they have better confidentiality on a ward while just under six out of 10 (58%) feel there is no difference.

More than eight out of 10 feel they got more peace and quiet on a ward, while just over four out of 10 (41%) feel they had more dignity and respect on a ward but more than half those questioned didn’t find any difference in their dignity or respect in either part of the hospital.

The vast majority of the sick patients felt they would be more comfortable while just over a quarter felt they would get better treatment on a ward but one in 10 felt they would get better medical treatment in the emergency department.

Patients said that the “staff were great and efficient but under constant pressure”, “they’re doing the best they can”.

The study said a policy called the Full Capacity Protocol created by Peter Viccellio in New York to tackle overcrowding and now used in hospitals in the US and Canada has been included in a national directive to guide Irish hospital escalation policies.

The study said the protocol means that patients who are ambulant, without infectious diseases, are not confused, not requiring intensive or coronary care management, not requiring suctioning and not requiring more than four litres per minute of oxygen are deemed suitable to be placed on extra ward beds.

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