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Patient Satisfaction And Reality

Wed, 02/15/2012 - 4:45am

Christmas came early for us skeptics this year. In a landmark study, certainly one of the most interesting and thought-provoking of the year-to-date, researchers from the University of California-Davis found that the more satisfied patients were with their physicians, the higher their hospital admission rates, prescription costs and total costs were. And patients with the highest level of satisfaction with their doctors had higher mortality rates compared to those patients least satisfied with their doctors.

The prospective cohort study included almost 52,000 patients. The full text of the paper can be viewed here. I won’t bore you with the details of how it was done except to say it looks scientifically legitimate.

The study’s authors say, “Patients typically bring expectations to medical encounters, often making specific requests of physicians, and satisfaction correlates with the extent to which physicians fulfill patient expectations. Patient requests have also been shown to have a powerful influence on physician prescribing behavior, and our findings suggest that patient satisfaction may be particularly strongly linked with prescription drug expenditures.”

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