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Br Med J. 1977 Feb 26; 1(6060): 545–548.
PMCID: PMC1605237

Patients in acute surgical wards: a survey in Glasgow.


A survey was made of all patients in general surgical, urological, and orthopaedic and accident wards in Glasgow on one day in June 1975. Its purpose was to define features of acute surgical practice of relevance to the future planning of resources, particularly bed numbers. Over 40% of the patients in both surgical and orthopaedic wards were over 65 years. Most patients had serious conditions and could not have been treated other than by admission to an acute surgical ward. But a substantial minority no longer needed such facilities and could have been transferred to second-line beds, although many still required skilled nursing care. Delay in the discharge of elderly patients from acute surgical wards as a consequence of non-surgical (often medical or social) problems results in a proportion of acute surgical beds fulfilling a second-line function. Unless arrangements for the earlier discharge of these patients are made any reduction in acute surgical beds is likely to restrict elective surgery, especially in orthopaedics.

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