Australian healthcare system maintains unisex wards despite complaints

Queensland Hospital patients report embarrassment and awkwardness of sharing a hospital ward with the opposite sex

By Healthcare Facilities Today

Queensland Health has defended its use of mixed gender hospital wards, saying the pressure for beds sometimes means it is unavoidable, according to an article on the Warwick Daily News website.

A reader contacted the Daily News after recently being placed in a ward with both men and women at Toowoomba Hospital and speaking of the embarrassment and awkwardness of sharing a hospital ward with the opposite sex, according to the article.

Readers who commented on the newspaper's Facebook page offered mixed views, with most saying that male and female patients should be separate, especially the elderly and those in psychiatric care, according to the Daily News.

According to the article, many female readers spoke of similar embarrassment during hospital stays in wards with male patients, as well as concern about the possibility of inappropriate sexual behavior.

Warwick Hospital acting director of nursing Janet Reid said it was "uncommon" for their patients to be placed in wards with mixed genders, but it does occur when both men and women present to hospital with a common, contagious condition.

Toowoomba Hospital and Medical Services acting executive director Dr Hwee Sin Chong said that patients and their families were encouraged to raise any concerns they have while receiving care with staff members.

"All efforts are made to separate males and females, however this can be difficult when the pressure for beds is high," Chong said in the article.

Women admitted to psychiatry wards experience high levels of violence and sexual assaults, according to a report released last May by the Victorian Mental Illness Alliance Council.

The report showed that across nine psychiatry wards surveyed in Victoria, 85% of female inpatients felt unsafe, 67% reported experiencing sexual or other forms of harassment and 45% of respondents had experienced sexual assault during an in-patient admission.

Read the article.






January 14, 2014

Topic Area: Maintenance and Operations

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