Inability of Physicians and Nurses to Predict Patient Satisfaction in the Emergency Department
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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Inability of Physicians and Nurses to Predict Patient Satisfaction in the Emergency Department


Introduction: Patient satisfaction is a commonly assessed dimension of emergency department (ED) care quality. The ability of ED clinicians to estimate patient satisfaction is unknown. We sought to evaluate the ability of emergency medicine resident physicians and nurses to predict patient-reported satisfaction with physician and nursing care, pain levels, and understanding of discharge instructions. 

Methods: We studied a convenience sample of 100 patients treated at an urban academic ED. Patients rated satisfaction with nursing care, physician care, pain level at time of disposition and understanding of discharge instructions. Resident physicians and nurses estimated responses for each patient. We compared patient, physician and nursing responses using Cohen’s kappa, weighting the estimates to account for the ordinal responses.

Results: Overall, patients had a high degree of satisfaction with care provided by the nurses and physicians, although this was underestimated by providers. There was poor agreement between physician estimation of patient satisfaction (weighted κ=0.23, standard error: 0.078) and nursing estimates of patient satisfaction (weighted κ=0.11, standard error: 0.043); physician estimation of patient pain (weighted κ=0.43, standard error: 0.082) and nursing estimates (weighted κ=0.39, standard error: 0.081); physician estimates of patient comprehension of discharge instruction (weighted κ=0.19, standard error: 0.082) and nursing estimates (weighted κ=0.13, standard error: 0.078). Providers underestimated pain and patient comprehension of discharge instructions. 

Conclusion: ED providers were not able to predict patient satisfaction with nurse or physician care, pain level, or understanding of discharge instructions.

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