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Study: Patient Satisfaction Not Necessarily An Indicator Of Surgical Quality

Fri, 04/19/2013 - 8:32am
Jordan Rau

You may have found your doctor to be a great communicator, your hospital room clean and quiet and your pain well controlled. Yet a study finds these opinions are not barometers of whether your hospital’s surgical care is any good.

The study, led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University medical and public health schools, looked at patient satisfaction and surgical quality measures at 31 urban hospitals in 10 states. Patient satisfaction was determined by the results of standard Medicare surveys given to patients after they left the hospital.   Quality was judged by how consistently surgeons and nurses followed recommended standards of care, such as giving antibiotics at the right time and taking precautionary steps to avert blood clots. The researchers also looked at how hospital employees evaluated safety attitudes at their hospital.

The researchers found little relationship between a hospital’s patient satisfaction scores and most quality ratings. “At present, little evidence supports its ability to predict the quality of surgical care,” Heather Lyu, Dr. Martin Makary and the other researchers wrote in JAMA Surgery.

Makary said that while patient satisfaction scores are a valuable component of evaluating a hospital, they are getting excessive attention because they are among the few quality measures available to the public. “It’s going to mislead patients because they’re going to think the hospital with the best lobby and the best parking and customer service is going to have the best heart surgery,” he said in an interview.

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