Patients’ perception of privacy and confidentiality in the emergency department of a busy obstetric unit

The layout of emergency departments (EDs) in maternity units should provide privacy and confidentiality for women accessing services. Our ED was renovated to improve privacy. Women surveyed before and after the renovation reported increased satisfaction with privacy.

Lucia Hartigan, Leanne Cussen, Sarah Meaney, Keelin O'Donoghue
Journal Name
BMC Health Services Research
Journal Article
Experience, Pregnancy loss
Full Citation
Hartigan L, Cussen L, Meaney S, O'Donoghue K. Patients’ perception of privacy and confidentiality in the emergency department of a busy obstetric unit. BMC Health Services Research. 2018;18:978.
Link to Publication


Privacy and confidentiality are central components of patient care and are of particular importance in obstetrics and gynaecology, where sensitive clinical situations regularly occur. The layout of the emergency department (ED) in maternity units is often not conducive to maintaining privacy. Our study aimed to discover if changing the environment could improve women’s experiences in the ED. We surveyed patients and asked specific questions about their perception of privacy in the ED. We then repeated the survey following renovations to the ED which involved replacing curtained patient areas with walled cubicles. There were 75 pre-renovation surveys and 82 post-renovation surveys completed. Before the renovations took place, only 21% of women found their privacy to be adequate during their visit to the ED. However, this rose to 89% of women post-renovation. Our study showed that women’s perception of privacy and confidentiality significantly improved following refurbishment of the ED.

Pregnancy Loss Research Group

Pregnancy Loss Research Group, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University College Cork, Fifth Floor, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Wilton, Cork, T12 YE02, Ireland,