Afternoon ward rounds: bad for patients, bad for doctors?

Alexander Carpenter, Sona M Vora, Samantha Kestenbaum, Ameeka Thompson, Mark Devine, Emma Tenison, Eleanor Quicke, Kate Liang, Francesca Deibel

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Hospital medicine in the UK is under unprecedented pressure, with increasing demand on physicians as well as challenges in recruiting new doctors into the physicianly specialties.

We sought to assess the prevalence of the afternoon ward round and its effect on those undertaking them. We sampled each hospital within our postgraduate region, surveying junior doctors working on inpatient medical wards.

We surveyed roughly two-thirds of eligible doctors, ­finding that 30% of juniors had some commitment, of varying frequency, to ward rounds beginning after 1.00pm. Of the ­doctors involved in afternoon ward rounds, the majority felt they contributed to late finishes, delayed discharge of ­patients, reduced team efficiency and reduced job ­satisfaction. Just under 80% felt they were less likely to consider a career in hospital medicine as a result

The afternoon ward round lives on, and we should not ­underestimate its effect. Low junior doctor morale coupled with high work intensity can lead to burnout as well as ­impairing the effectiveness of the clinical service. Clinical ­leaders should consider leaving this practice in the past so we can cope with the challenges of the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-122
Number of pages5
JournalFuture Healthcare Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2019


  • ward rounds
  • general internal medicine
  • junior doctors
  • time management
  • morale


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