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Lost in hospital: A qualitative interview study that explores the perceptions of NHS inpatients who spent time on clinically inappropriate hospital wards

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Joy Adamson



This is the final published version of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2015.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Background: Prior research suggests that the placement of patients on clinically inappropriate hospital wards may increase the risk of experiencing patient safety issues. Objective: To explore patients' perspectives of the quality and safety of the care received during their inpatient stay on a clinically inappropriate hospital ward. Design: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. Participants and setting: Nineteen patients who had spent time on at least one clinically inappropriate ward during their hospital stay at a large NHS teaching hospital in England. Results: Patients would prefer to be treated on the correct specialty ward, but it is generally accepted that this may not be possible. When patients are placed on inappropriate wards, they may lack a sense of belonging. Participants commented on potential failings in communication, medical staff availability, nurses' knowledge and the resources available, each of which may contribute to unsafe care. Conclusions: Patients generally acknowledge the need for placement on inappropriate wards due to demand for inpatient beds, but may report dissatisfaction in terms of preference and belonging. Importantly, patients recount issues resulting from this placement that may compromise their safety. Hospital managers should be encouraged to appreciate this insight and potential threat to safe practice and where possible avoid inappropriate ward transfers and admissions. Where such admissions are unavoidable, staff should take action to address the gaps in safety of care that have been identified.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Goulding L, Adamson J, Watt I, Wright J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Health Expectations

Year: 2015

Volume: 18

Issue: 5

Pages: 982-994

Print publication date: 01/10/2015

Online publication date: 24/04/2013

Acceptance date: 29/03/2013

Date deposited: 23/01/2018

ISSN (print): 1369-6513

ISSN (electronic): 1369-7625

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/hex.12071

PubMed id: 23611442


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