How was your hospital stay? Patients' reports about their care in Canadian hospitals.
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OBJECTIVE: To survey adult medical and surgical patients about their concerns and satisfaction with their care in Canadian hospitals. DESIGN: Cross-sectional telephone survey undertaken from June 1991 to May 1992 with a standardized questionnaire. SETTING: Stratified random sample of public acute care hospitals in six provinces; 57 (79%) of the 72 hospitals approached agreed to participate. PATIENTS: Each participating hospital provided the study team with the names of 150 adult medical and surgical patients discharged home in consecutive order. A total of 4599 patients agreed to be interviewed (69% of eligible patients and 89% of patients contacted). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Satisfaction with (a) provider-patient communication (including information given), (b) provider's respect for patient's preferences, (c) attentiveness to patient's physical care needs, (d) education of patient regarding medication and tests, (e) quality of relationship between patient and physician in charge, (f) education of and communication with patient's family regarding care, (g) pain management and (h) hospital discharge planning. RESULTS: Most (61%) of the patients surveyed reported problems with 5 or fewer of the 39 specific care processes asked about in the study. Forty-one percent of the patients reported that they had not been told about the daily hospital routines. About 20% of the patients receiving medications reported that they had not been told about important side effects in a way they could understand; 20% of the patients who underwent tests reported similar problems with communication of the test results. Thirty-six percent of those having tests had not been told how much pain to expect. In discharge planning, the patients complained that they had not been told what danger signals to watch for at home (reported by 39%), when they could resume normal activities (by 32%) and what activities they could or could not do at home (by 29%). Over 90% of the patients reported that they had had a relationship of confidence and trust with their physician and that they had been involved in decision making as much as they wanted to be. Fifteen percent of the patients whose admissions had been scheduled felt that they should have been admitted sooner. CONCLUSION: The self-reported patient data from this survey suggest that hospital routines, medications, tests, pain management and discharge planning are areas of communication to target in future quality-improvement efforts in Canadian hospitals.
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