Many U.S. Patients Believe Their Hospital Falls Short in Addressing Basic Quality Issues

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<p>While patients in U.S. hospitals are generally satisfied with their care, satisfaction levels are not as high as they could be, and rise significantly when hospitals have more nurses at bedside, a new <a href="/publications/in-the-literature/2008/oct/patients-perception-of-hospital-care-in-the-united-states
">Commonwealth Fund-supported study</a> finds.<br><br>Published today in <em>The New England Journal of Medicine,</em> the study, conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, reveals that patients frequently feel hospitals fall short in addressing basic quality issues--controlling pain, communicating about medications, and coordinating discharge planning. More than 2,400 hospitals nationally were included in the analysis.<br><br>While two-thirds of patients gave their hospital care a high rating, very few hospitals received the highest rating from 90 percent or more of their patients. The performance of for-profit hospitals was worse than that of private and nonprofit hospitals in all areas, but differences between teaching and non-teaching hospitals were small and insignificant. On average, patients at hospitals that have a higher number of nurses available at bedside rated their experiences as better, with the ratio of nurses to patient days a critical predictor of patients' overall ratings.<br><br>"Our analysis shows that hospitals can do a lot better at providing patient-centered care," said Ashish Jha, M.D., the study's lead author. "The good news is that publicizing hospital performance is likely to stimulate improvements in the future, since hospitals will now have benchmark data to compare how they are doing."</p>