Patient Care

Patient Satisfaction Scores, Objective Measures of Surgical Quality Have Positive Association


Clinical question: Is there an association between objective measures of surgical quality and patient satisfaction as measured by the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey?

Background: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has tied financial reimbursement to patient satisfaction scores. It is unknown whether high-quality surgery correlates with higher patient satisfaction scores.

Study design: Retrospective, observational study.

Setting: One hundred eighty hospitals participating in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP).

Synopsis: The study included 103,866 Medicare patients 65 and older who had surgery at a participating ACS NSQIP hospital between 2004-2008. Data regarding these patients were collected from a linked database (including Medicare inpatient claims, ACS NSQIP, the American Hospital Association annual survey, and Hospital Compare). Analysis of five 30-day outcomes was performed in order to assess surgical quality:

  • Post-operative mortality;
  • Major complication;
  • Minor complication;
  • Death following a complication; and
  • Readmission.

Participating hospitals were grouped into quartiles based upon their performance on the HCAHPS survey.

Hospitals that performed in the highest quartile on the HCAHPS survey had significantly lower 30-day mortality, death following complications, and minor complications. No differences were detected in hospital readmissions or major complications based on patient satisfaction.

The results of this study may not be generalizable to all hospitals given the fact that the dataset is from Medicare patients only and participation in the ACS NSQIP is voluntary.

Bottom line: Using data from a national database, researchers found a positive association between patient satisfaction scores and objective measures of surgical quality.

Citation: Sacks GD, Lawson EH, Dawes AJ, et al. Relationship between hospital performance on a patient satisfaction survey and surgical quality [published online ahead of print June 24, 2015]. JAMA Surg. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2015.1108.

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