How is it best to deliver care in acute medical units? A systematic review

L. E. M. Reid, A. J. F. Crookshanks, M. C. Jones, Z. J. Morrison, N. I. Lone, C. J. Weir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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The majority of medical patients presenting to hospital in the UK are cared for in acute medical units (AMUs). Such units are also increasingly present internationally. Care delivery varies across units: this review aims to examine the evidence for how best to deliver AMU care.

Six electronic databases and grey literature were searched. Inclusion criteria comprised interventions applied to undifferentiated patients in AMU settings. All studies were quality assessed. A narrative approach was undertaken.

Nine studies, all conducted in the UK or Ireland, evaluated 1.3 million episodes, 3617 patients and 49 staff. There was single study evidence for beneficial effects of: enhanced pharmacy care, a dedicated occupational therapy service, an all-inclusive consultant work pattern, a rapid-access medical clinic and formalized handovers. Two studies found increased consultant presence was associated with reduced mortality; one of these studies found an association with a reduction in 28-day readmissions; and the other found an association with an increased proportion of patients discharged on the day they were admitted. Three studies provide evidence of the beneficial effects of multiple interventions developed from local service reviews.

Overall, the quality of the evidence was limited. This review has identified operationally relevant evidence that increased consultant presence is associated with improved outcomes of care; has highlighted the potential to improve outcomes locally through service reviews; and has demonstrated an important knowledge gap of how best to deliver AMU care. These findings have importance given the challenges acute services currently face.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-523
Number of pages9
Issue number8
Early online date4 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

This work has been supported by The Scottish Government and the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. CJW was supported in this work by NHS Lothian via the Edinburgh Clinical Trials Unit


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