Background: The transition from being an ordinary citizen to a hospitalised patient can be a daunting experience particularly for the uninitiated and inexperienced. Patients are likely to have questions such as 'where do I go?', 'what should I do?', 'when?' and 'who should I ask?' The process for making practical moment-to-moment decisions is often complex and fraught with difficulties. Identifying critical points in the hospitalisation experience may provide insights into the quality of hospital management systems and professional practices from a patient perspective. Objective: This study aimed to identify institutional practices and structures in the context of acute healthcare settings which impact on patient moment-to-moment decision-making experiences. Method: A case study approach was used as the exploratory methodology, and interviews were conducted with three former adult inpatients. In order to gain an understanding of each participant's experiences, data collecting strategies used in this research were a semistructured interview and document analysis of information documents, such as hospital supplied pamphlets, provided to the researcher by the participants. Results: The study identified five major themes. Identified as being critical to the participants were information sharing by healthcare professionals, professional advice and professional role identification. Less so were environment and everyday life. Associated with these themes were the participant's common experience of being confined in unfamiliar surroundings, adjusting to institutional routines and of being heavily dependent on others. Conclusion: Findings indicate that patient moment-to-moment decision-making may be informed and enhanced in several areas: relevant and timely information sharing, varying the dress code between the different professions, reducing conflicting professional advice, clear signage around the hospital, and flexible visiting hours, telephones and clocks in patient rooms.
- Case studies
- User's experiences