Measuring the satisfaction of hospitalised patients has been mandatory in France since 1996. The most common tool for assessing the level of satisfaction is the use of self-administered questionnaires given to the patient upon his/her release from the hospital. A survey was conducted among seven public hospitals to appraise the development and use of such questionnaires, their results and the way in which these results are taken into account in order to improve the quality of care. The survey's results illustrate that the policy with respect to their construction varies between hospitals, without any evaluation of the validity of the questionnaires produced. In most cases, the questionnaires are passively distributed to the patient at the time of discharge. The response rates are low (ranging from 4 to 18%), and the analysis of the collected questionnaires, to the extent to which it is done, is not necessarily used to improve the quality of care. An appropriate evaluation strategy, one capable of effecting change and improving hospital care, still remains to be established in the hospitals which participated in the survey.