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Researchers to examine why patients discharge themselves from hospital

Press clipping: Research

Publication date24/07/13

A STUDY is being  launched to find  out why thousands of patients go against medical advice and themselves from  hospital.

Researchers  from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Lancaster University will explore the reasons why patients self- discharge

Between 2009 and 2010, almost 15 million patients were seen at hospitals across the UK, with around 1.5 per cent self-discharging – the equivalent of 225,000 people.

Hospital officials in Sheffield said yesterday that it is "especially common in ethnic minority and socially disadvantaged  groups".

The two-year £6,000 study is to be led by David Warriner, a specialist cardiology registrar in Sheffield, and Laura Machin, a lecturer from Lancaster University’s medical school.

Dr Warriner said: "Protecting and caring for patients is the prime concern of all health professionals,  so it’s really important that we look at why a significant number of patients choose to leave hospital before they are ready and contrary to hospital advice.

"During this study, we will be talking to patients and healthcare professionals  to understand why people choose to leave hospital against medical advice, at what stage of their treatment this occurs and how this impacts on any follow-up care needed."

The pilot study will focus on patients who self-discharge  from acute medical care, such as A&E departments  and medical admissions units. Interviews will take place with healthcare staff and hospital managers with direct experience of patients self-discharging and also patients who have self-discharged.

Self-discharge  is higher in NHS units dealing with patients suffering from mental health problems.