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Open Access Publications from the University of California

What Are We Measuring? Evaluating Physician-Specific Satisfaction Scores Between Emergency Departments


Introduction: Most emergency departments (ED) use patient experience surveys (i.e., Press Ganey) that include specific physician assessment fields. Our ED group currently staffs two EDs – one at a large, tertiary-care hospital, and the other at a small, affiliated, community site. Both are staffed by the same physicians. The goals of this study were to determine whether Press Ganey ED satisfaction scores for emergency physicians working at two different sites were consistent between sites, and to identify factors contributing to any variation.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective study of patients seen at either ED between September 2015 and March 2016 who returned a Press Ganey satisfaction survey. We compiled a database linking the patient visit with his or her responses on a 1-5 scale to questions that included “overall rating of emergency room care” and five physician-specific questions. Operational metrics including time to room, time to physician, overall length of stay, labs received, prescriptions received, demographic data, and the attending physician were also linked. We averaged scores for physicians staffing both EDs and compared them between sites using t-tests. Multiple logistic regression was used to determine the impact of visit-specific metrics on survey scores.

Results: A total of 1,012 ED patients met the inclusion criteria (site 1=457; site 2=555). The overall rating-of-care metric was significantly lower at the tertiary-care hospital ED compared to our lower volume ED (4.30 vs 4.65). The same trend was observed when the five doctor-specific metrics were summed (22.06 vs 23.32). Factors that correlated with higher scores included arrival-to-first-attending time (p=0.013) and arrival-to-ED-departure time (p=0.038), both of which were longer at the tertiary-care hospital ED.

Conclusion: Press Ganey satisfaction scores for the same group of emergency physicians varied significantly between sites. This suggests that these scores are more dependent on site-specific factors, such as wait times, than a true representation of the quality of care provided by the physician.

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