Patient satisfaction as a possible indicator of quality surgical care

JAMA Surg. 2013 Apr;148(4):362-7. doi: 10.1001/2013.jamasurg.270.


Importance: In 2010, national payers announced they would begin using patient satisfaction scores to adjust reimbursements for surgical care.

Objective: To determine whether patient satisfaction is independent from surgical process measures and hospital safety.

Design: We compared the performance of hospitals that participated in the Patient Satisfaction Survey, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Surgical Care Improvement Program, and the employee Safety Attitudes Questionnaire.

Setting: Thirty-one US hospitals. PARTICIPANTS Patients and hospital employees.

Interventions: There were no interventions for this study.

Main outcomes and measures: Hospital patient satisfaction scores were compared with hospital Surgical Care Improvement Program compliance and hospital employee safety attitudes (safety culture) scores during a 2-year period (2009-2010). Secondary outcomes were individual domains of the safety culture survey.

Results: Patient satisfaction was not associated with performance on process measures (antibiotic prophylaxis, R = -0.216 [P = .24]; appropriate hair removal, R = -0.012 [P = .95]; Foley catheter removal, R = -0.089 [P = .63]; deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis, R = 0.101 [P = .59]). In addition, patient satisfaction was not associated with a hospital's overall safety culture score (R = 0.295 [P = .11]). We found no association between patient satisfaction and the individual culture domains of job satisfaction (R = 0.327 [P = .07]), working conditions (R = 0.191 [P = .30]), or perceptions of management (R = 0.223 [P = .23]); however, patient satisfaction was associated with the individual culture domains of employee teamwork climate (R = 0.439 [P = .01]), safety climate (R = 0.395 [P = .03]), and stress recognition (R = -0.462 [P = .008]).

Conclusions and relevance: Patient satisfaction was independent of hospital compliance with surgical processes of quality care and with overall hospital employee safety culture, although a few individual domains of culture were associated. Patient satisfaction may provide information about a hospital's ability to provide good service as a part of the patient experience; however, further study is needed before it is applied widely to surgeons as a quality indicator.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cohort Studies
  • Device Removal
  • Female
  • Hair Removal / methods
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Organizational Culture
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Safety Management / organization & administration
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Urinary Catheterization
  • Venous Thrombosis / prevention & control