PMID: 1211299Aug 1, 1975Paper

Bed blocking by elderly patients in general-hospital wards

Age and Ageing
S G Rubin, G H Davies


A point prevalence survey, using a questionnaire, was performed in three general hospitals to investigate the problem of elderly patients blocking acute-hospital beds. A total of 1010 occupied general beds were surveyed and all patients, over the age of 60 years, who had been in hospital more than four weeks, and who, in the opinion of medical and nursing staff, were no longer in need of the facilities of a general hospital, were investigated. Forty-eight patients (4.8 per cent of the total) were found to be genuinely in bed inappropriate to their needs. Rehabilitation, together with assessment of these patients, appeared disorganized and lacked consistency, and decisions regarding suitable 'disposal' appeared to be made without sufficient consultation and conformed to no detectable pattern. The main reason for the continuing bed occupancy of the patients was the length of the waiting lists for alternative residential accommodation and the main single medical factor preventing discharge home or to a hostel was the problem of mobility. By interviewing staff and patients and scrutinizing the questionnaires, it was found that 23 patients (48 per cent) were only suitable for transfer to a long-stay hospital. Of these, however, 15 (...Continue Reading


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