Issue 2 : Patient Privacy

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Patient Privacy

Problem Definition

Improve patient privacy throughout the ED without compromising work flow or patient safety.


  • Need to do research to see if other sites have come up with solutions to this problem
  • One site in the mid-west used a new radio system to reduce noise and increase the privacy of patient information transitted verbally


  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Noise level
  • Staff Satisfaction
  • Line of sight - come up with a quantitative measure of visual privacy
  • Number of patients in different types of beds (i.e. hallway, private)


Olsen JC, Cutcliffe B, O'Brien BC. Emergency Department Design and Patient Perceptions of Privacy and Confidentiality.J Emerg Med. 2008 Mar 27.

Walsh P, Cortez V, Bhakta H. Patients would prefer ward to emergency department boarding while awaiting an inpatient bed. J Emerg Med. 2008 Feb;34(2):221-6. Epub 2007 Oct 1.

Moskop JC, Marco CA, Larkin GL, Geiderman JM, Derse AR.From Hippocrates to HIPAA: privacy and confidentiality in emergency medicine--Part II: Challenges in the emergency department.Ann Emerg Med. 2005 Jan;45(1):60-7.

Barlas D, Sama AE, Ward MF, Lesser ML.Comparison of the auditory and visual privacy of emergency department treatment areas with curtains versus those with solid walls. Ann Emerg Med. 2001 Aug;38(2):135-9.

COMMENT: Ackerman "Improve patient privacy" - this is a goal, not a problem. What is privacy? Why is there a lack of privacy? Why is it a problem? What is the problem. Some people don't like all the other people in the hallway looking at them, to others the lack of privacy is the number of people examinign them, to others it is people looking through the medical records. Still others require invasive exams or need to tell us very personal information that they don't want shared.

COMMENT: Williams: I see this topic in several ways. I think what Dr. Ackerman wrote is very true, however, I do see it as an issue that could also be looked at by the design of the department. 1. Private rooms have become the norm to improve patient privacy, but not all facilities have this ability. What can be done in those facilities that must work with bay settings. 2. Privacy in the ED registration process and the ED discharge process is a major concern. In some ED's they are using bedside registration, while others are trying to deal with registration and cashier areas that are still in open booths, where privacy is a major problem.