Several studies have indicated that large numbers of psychiatrically ill patients are admitted to medical and surgical wards of general hospitals.1-4 Prevalence figures have ranged from 30% reported at the New York Hospital1 to a remarkable 86% found by Zwerling and his associates on the wards of the Cincinnati General Hospital.3
The variations in reported prevalence undoubtedly reflect a number of factors, which may include: (1) differences in the characteristics of the patients served by the hospital; (2) the unreliability of the clinical psychiatric examination when used as a screening procedure; and (3) differences in criteria for the diagnosis of a psychiatric disturbance from one hospital to another.
Physicians on a medical ward may be unaware of the fact that a large proportion of their patients are suffering from psychiatric disorders.3,4 Only selective kinds of abnormal behavior are perceived as indicative of
DENNEY D, QUASS RM, RICH DC, THOMPSON JK. Psychiatric Patients on Medical WardsI. Prevalence of Illness and Recognition of Disorders by Staff Personnel. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1966;14(5):530–535. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1966.01730110082012