New Study Draws Distinction Between Patient Satisfaction and Quality of Care

A happy patient may not necessarily be a well cared-for patient and an unhappy patient could be receiving excellent care, according to a new study.

The Journal JAMA Surgery reports that there is little relationship between the satisfaction hospital patients express about their surgical experiences and the quality of care they received.

In the April 2013 article “Patient Satisfaction as a Possible Indicator of Quality Surgical Care,” the study’s authors wrote that

Patient satisfaction was independent of hospital compliance with surgical processes of quality care and with overall hospital employee safety culture, although a few individual domains of culture were associated.  Patient satisfaction may provide information about a hospital’s ability to provide good service as part of the patient experience; however, further study is needed before it is applied widely to surgeons as a quality indicator.

The results of patient satisfaction surveys are an important factor in determining payments to hospitals under Medicare’s value-based purchasing program.  The JAMA Surgery study appears to call into question the appropriateness of such an approach.

Read a Kaiser Health News report on the JAMA Surgery article here and find the complete article here.

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