OBJECTIVE--To assess the efficiency of a short stay observation ward attached to the accident and emergency (A&E) department of a main teaching hospital. METHODS--The study was done on 107 patients admitted to the A&E observation ward and 107 similar patients admitted to general wards after closure of the observation ward. Patients of 13 years and over who required short term admission to hospital for observation or investigation were included. RESULTS--Patients admitted to the A&E observation ward were seen sooner by a senior doctor, had fewer investigations, and had a shorter stay in hospital than similar patients admitted to the general wards. CONCLUSIONS--The A&E observation ward was more efficient than the general acute wards at dealing with short stay patients.
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