Table 1

A summary of the benefits of an assessment/admission ward with respect to certain groups of patients

First author (year)Patient groupSummary of benefits gained from presence of an assessment/admission ward
Khan, SA (1997)58ElderlyShort stay ward can reduce some patients stay in hospital and reduce demand for in-patient places. Increased level of care for elderly patients.
Beattie, TF (1993)44ChildrenChildren get comfortable beds more quickly. Improved awareness of simple pathology.
Biddulph, J (1984)59Most children admitted to an observation unit were sent home without requiring hospital treatment. Observation easier and more efficient than if admitted fully to hospital.
Ryan, J (1996)60Self HarmMost patients discharged next day without need for further follow up. Potential cost savings made.
Jones, A (1995)39Head injuriesObservation ward offers safe and monitored area for recovery. Few patients require admission to other wards.
Brown, SR (1994)61Number of inappropriate discharges decreased.
Gouin, S (1997)22AsthmaAn observation unit lowered the hospitalisation rate for children with asthma, yet there was an increased rate of repeat visits to the ED.
Willert, C (1997)62Holding room therapy for childhood status asthmaticus is beneficial both medically and cost wise.
Hutchins, CJ (1978)63Gynaecology patientsOf 408 patients admitted to one gynaecological unit, 56% were in hospital for less than 6 hours and a further quarter did not require hospital admission. Full staffing of a unit could release a number of beds for other selected work.
Gaspoz, JM (1994)64Chest painShort stay units prevent unnecessary long stays in hospital, and are safe and cost effective.
Goodacre, SW (2000)27There is insufficient evidence to say that an observation unit will improve outcomes if clinical practice is good. Not proven to be financially beneficial in the UK yet.
Henneman, PL (1989)65Abdominal conditions and traumaAbdominal trauma and negative diagnostic peritoneal lavage can be safely managed in an observation unit.
Conrad, L (1985)66Patients with initial negative test results can be evaluated in observation units.
Israel, RS (1991)6772% of patients treated for pyelonephritis were successfully managed on an observation ward and were discharged early.