By Jordan Rau
SALISBURY, N.C. — Lillie Robinson came to Rowan Medical Center for surgery on her left foot. She expected to be in and out in a day, returning weeks later for her surgeon to operate on the other foot.
But that’s not how things turned out. “When I got here I found out he was doing both,” she said. “We didn’t realize that until they started medicating me for the procedure.” Robinson signed a consent form and the operation went fine, but she was told she would be in the hospital far longer than she had expected.
“I wasn’t prepared for that,” she said.
Disappointing patients such as Robinson is a persistent problem for Rowan, a hospital with some the lowest levels of patient satisfaction in the country. In surveys sent to patients after they leave, Rowan’s patients are less likely than those at most hospitals to say that they always received help promptly and that their pain was controlled well. Rowan’s patients say they would recommend the hospital far less often than patients do elsewhere.
In April, the government will begin boiling down the patient feedback into a five-star rating for hospitals. Hospitals say judging them on a one-to-five scale is too simplistic.
Feedback from patients such as Robinson matters to Rowan and to hospitals across the country. Since Medicare began requiring hospitals to collect information about patient satisfaction and report it to the government in 2007, these patient surveys
have grown in influence. For the past three years, the federal government has considered survey results when setting pay levels for hospitals
. Some private insurers do as well.
In April, the government will begin boiling down the patient feedback into a five-star rating for hospitals. Federal officials say they hope that will make it easier for consumers to digest the information now available on Medicare’s Hospital Compare website. Hospitals say judging them on a one-to-five scale is too simplistic.
Some Hospitals Improve As Others Stagnate
Nationally, the hospital industry has improved in all the areas the surveys track, including clean and quiet their rooms are and how well doctors and nurses communicate.But hundreds of hospitals have not made headway in boosting their ratings, federal records show. Continue reading