Patients Say Some Hospital Care is Inadequate

Posted on Nov 03, 2008

Researchers have reported that although most patients are satisfied with their hospital care, many hospitals have fallen short in areas, such as pain control and communication.

The authors of the report reviewed data that was collected by the federal government in a continuous survey of patients at all hospitals that receive payments from Medicare.  The responses included communication with physicians and nurses about medication and quality of nursing services, discharge information and pain management.

Lead author Ashish Jha, assistant professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, was quoted as saying, "These data really represent a sea change.  We've been talking about (health care) quality for 20 years, but patients' experiences have not been part of the discussion."

The majority of patients that were studied were satisfied with the care they received while at the hospital.  According to the report, 63 percent of respondents gave a rating of 9 or 10, on a scale of zero to 10 and 26 percent gave ratings of 7 or 8.  However, almost a third of the patients did not give high ratings regarding pain control and about 20 percent of the patients didn’t give high ratings for hospital discharge instructions.  Anne-Marie Audet of the Commonwealth Fund, which funded the study, said that when the data is reviewed, it is clear that no one is doing that great.

The study found that when there was a high ratio of nurses to patients, there was higher patient satisfaction.  Researchers were surprised to discover that teaching hospitals were often rated higher than non-teaching hospitals and non-profit higher than for profit.

Hospitals were not required to submit their results during the first year of the survey, which ended September 30th.  Out of more than 4,000 hospitals nationwide, about 40 percent did not submit their results.  Hospital data can be viewed at


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