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Research Report Shows that Some Hospital Care is Lacking

Researchers have reported that although most patients are generally satisfied with their hospital care, many hospitals have fallen short in relatively low-tech areas, including pain control and communication.

The authors of the report analyzed and collected data by the federal government in an ongoing survey of patients at all hospitals that receive Medicare payments. Responses to the survey included communication with doctors, with nurses about medications 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 of change. We’ve been talking about (health care) quality for 20 years, but patients’ experiences have not been part of the discussion.”

Overall, 63 percent of respondents to the survey rated hospital care a 9 or 10 on a scale of zero to 10, according to the authors who wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine . Another 26 percent surveyed gave hospital care a rating of 7 or 8. However, almost a third of the patients did not give pain control a high rating and about 20 percent did not give a high rating for discharge instructions.

Anne-Marie Audet of the Commonwealth Fund, which funded the study, said that when one looks closely at the data, it can be recognized that no one is doing that great. Jha said that “we spend $2.1 trillion on health care. That stuff should be happening 95 percent to 100 percent of the time.”

Researchers found that the better a hospital was rated on standard measures of quality of care, the higher their patient ratings. A high ratio of nurses to patients was also linked to a greater satisfaction among patients.

Hospitals were not required to submit their results during the survey’s first year. Out of the 4,000 U.S. hospitals, approximately 40 percent did not send in their results.