Wednesday, April 25, 2007

On Today's Hospital Ratings

Another highly scientific survey sampling 25-30% of patients regarding their care in hospitals was published today:
Hospitals averaged a rating of 84.2 on a 100-point scale, up 1.2 points from five years ago, according to Press Ganey Associates, a health-care quality measurement specialist that conducted the survey.

Room conditions, food quality and the discharge process continued to draw complaints from patients. More than half of patients' comments about room conditions were negative, while more than a third of comments about meals and discharge from hospitals were negative.
Gloating over a 1.2 percentage point difference would make most statisticians cringe - especially when Press Ganey, the survey firm, puts the margin of error for the survey at about 1%.

Let's not fool ourselves thinking that patients' rooms and even the food make that much difference in the patient experience in our hospitals. These are immaterial to improving care. What matters is the nurse to patient ratio.

I bet any one of us would eat dog food in a hospital if we had a caring attentive nurse help us through our toughest hours; one who called the doctor about a medication error, helped us to the bathroom when we needed it, and took the time to explain our discharge instructions and follow-up care as we leave.

Too many hospitals have increased nursing-to-patient ratios to save money and counteract the decline in nurses available nation-wide. And patients have gotten little as a result for their health care dollar. Geez. 1.2% return on our health care dollar investment?

Hey guys and gals, it's the people that matter, not buildings and surveys. Give the patients more contact and watch your surveys climb. Problem is, are hospital administrators willing to pay?


1 comment:

Carol said...

You couldn't be more right. I've only had one hospital stay in my life. I don't remember the food. I never used the bathroom (they removed my catheter just before the transport ambulance showed up to move me to the rehab facility). But I remember the nurses. They watched over me, they made my pain a priority. They did their best to keep me clean. They were patient with my family, and they made me feel safe. Bless the nurses!