Emergency department design and patient perceptions of privacy and confidentiality

J Emerg Med. 2008 Oct;35(3):317-20. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2007.10.029. Epub 2008 Mar 28.


The study objective was to determine if Emergency Department (ED) patients experience fewer breaches of privacy and confidentiality in a larger, renovated ED compared to a similar patient population before renovation. We surveyed a convenience sample of patients regarding their privacy and confidentiality at the conclusion of their ED stay. In the post-renovation ED, 14% of patients overheard conversations about themselves or other patients, compared to 36% of patients in the ED before renovation. This was likely a result of both an increase in the department size (564 square feet per treatment space post-renovation vs. 375 square feet per treatment space pre-renovation) and the elimination of rooms separated only by curtains. Issues of privacy and confidentiality should be taken into consideration in the design of new departments and those to be renovated.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Confidentiality*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Hospital Design and Construction*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patients
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult