In the era of patient satisfaction, report cards, and bonus structure changes all based on patient surveys, in the August 2013 issue of Journal of Emergency Medicine, Drs. Zoe Howard (prior Stanford ultrasound fellow – oh yeah!), Vicki Noble (a guru of bedside US and one of the most fantastic people I know), along with other superstars performed a study that actually tried to keep some variables that would otherwise sway the results, as standard as possible. These include length of stay and chief complaints.
The authors state it best :”Patient satisfaction is becoming increasingly important as a marker of health care quality. As many hospitals grade physician performance and base reimbursement on patient satisfaction scores, clinical interventions that improve these ratings have become increasingly important. In addition to it being a marker of ED service and performance, there is evidence that patient satisfaction is associated with greater medical compliance, willingness to return or recommend the ED to others, and decreased litigation 1, 2, 3, 4. That decreased length of stay (LOS) improves patient satisfaction is both intuitive and supported by the literature (5). Three previous studies have reported high patient satisfaction with bedside ultrasound. A Swedish study showed that on leaving the ED, patients with acute abdominal pain who underwent EUS had a small but significant increase in satisfaction compared with those who did not (6). Another study showed comparably high overall patient satisfaction for both EP-performed and radiologist-performed ultrasound compared to no EUS (7). Finally, a small study of patients who presented to the ED with threatened miscarriage also showed higher satisfaction when EUS was used in their evaluation. These women also had increased confidence in their physician’s diagnosis (8).”
So, what does this all mean? Do it, and do it more – they like it!
The authors study abstract below:
Bedside ultrasound (US) is associated with improved patient satisfaction, perhaps as a consequence of improved time to diagnosis and decreased length of stay (LOS).
Our study aimed to quantify the association between beside US and patient satisfaction and to assess patient attitudes toward US and perception of their interaction with the clinician performing the examination.
We enrolled a convenience sample of adult patients who received a bedside US. The control group had similar LOS and presenting complaints but did not have a bedside US. Both groups answered survey questions during their emergency department (ED) visit and again by telephone 1 week later. The questionnaire assessed patient perceptions and satisfaction on a 5-point Likert scale.
Seventy patients were enrolled over 10 months. The intervention group had significantly higher scores on overall ED satisfaction (4.69 vs. 4.23; mean difference 0.46; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.17-0.75), diagnostic testing (4.54 vs. 4.09; mean difference 0.46; 95% CI 0.16-0.76), and skills/abilities of the emergency physician (4.77 vs. 4.14; mean difference 0.63; 95% CI 0.29-0.96). A trend to higher scores for the intervention group persisted on follow-up survey.
Patients who had a bedside US had statistically significant higher satisfaction scores with overall ED care, diagnostic testing, and with their perception of the emergency physician. Bedside US has the potential not only to expedite care and diagnosis, but also to maximize satisfaction scores and improve the patient-physician relationship, which has increasing relevance to health care organizations and hospitals that rely on satisfaction surveys.