High patient satisfaction doesn't mean better surgical quality

Just because a surgical inpatient is satisfied with the care they receive does not mean the hospital providing it is necessarily complying with the highest standards for performing invasive procedures, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Surgery.

Johns Hopkins University researchers surveyed patients and employees at 31 U.S. hospitals between 2009 and 2010 and concluded that "patient satisfaction was independent of hospital compliance with surgical processes of quality care and with overall hospital employee safety culture."

This was not the first time research showed such a disconnect: A 2012 study by University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics researchers reached a similar conclusion--that patient satisfaction is not always aligned with quality.

What's more, given that a portion of hospitals' Medicare reimbursements are based on patient satisfaction, lack of clarity on the issue could lead to hospitals receiving extra quality-based payments even though their standards of care are not up to snuff, the Johns Hopkins researchers noted.

"While patient satisfaction may be a useful metric for the quality of service provided by hospitals--making it a very attractive measure for payers--further study is required to determine its true ability to measure quality of care, particularly in a procedure-heavy field such as surgery," study researcher Heather Lyu, a Johns Hopkins medical student, told the British publication Science Omega.

To learn more
- here's the JAMA Surgery abstract
- check out the Science Omega article